Office ergonomics is centered around ensuring your office space is in a sufficient environment to enhance productivity and decrease risks of injury or pain. Poor posture and positioning of both your body and office supplies can cause strain in the neck and back, and fatigue, discomfort or pain at the end of a long work day.
Adjusting your office space to fit your personal needs is important to find comfort, support and also improve focus and productivity. Here are our best tips for setting up your office space and prioritizing your health throughout the work day.
Whether you’re at the office, at your kitchen table or on your couch, knowing how to sit correctly will prevent strain and tension from building in your neck and back.
For desk chairs, we of course recommend an ergonomic-specific desk chair with an adjustable height and back support. However, if you don’t have access to an ergonomic desk chair, use a chair with a back and ensure proper back support by using a lumbar pillow, or pillow to support your lower back. This can also be applied when sitting on the couch. Supporting your low back will help prevent slouching and rounding in the pelvic floor which can cause strain in the low back muscles.
For alternative desk chairs, we also recommend using a yoga or exercise ball which activates the core abdominal muscles, pelvis and postural muscles. However, when using a yoga ball as a desk chair, we recommend using it no longer than 2 hours at a time to avoid fatigue.
Wherever you are sitting, your feet should be planted on the floor in front of you. This provides stability for your body and helps support a strong posture.
If your feet cannot touch the floor, we highly recommend using a block, stool or something stable to rest your feet on while you sit.
The middle/top of computer or laptop screen should be at eye level. Keeping the screen at eye level will prevent the neck and shoulders from hanging or slouching forward. This slouching forward causes strain on the neck, trapezius and shoulder muscles which can result in headaches, pain or tension.
Sometimes a laptop riser is necessary to reach the proper height, you can even use a stack of books for propping up your screen to the appropriate level. When seated at the couch, use a pillow to prop up the laptop.
When at a desk, it is best to have your forearms resting on the desk parallel to the floor. The keyboard and mouse should be placed about 4-6 inches away from the edge of the desk which will allow your forearms to be supported.
If you are using a riser for your screen, we recommend using a separate keyboard to sit below or in front of the screen so your arms and wrists are not at an angle. You may also consider a cushion or pad that is the same height as the keyboard to support your wrists if you do a lot of typing throughout the day.
It is important to take breaks from sitting for long periods of time. A standing desk is a great alternative to sitting. Standing desks are becoming more and more popular and easy to find; however, if you do not have access to a standing desk, you can use books to prop your screen and accessories at a table while you stand.
Just as when seated at a desk, at a standing desk the forearms should be parallel with the floor and able to rest at the desk at a 90 degree angle. Your posture should remain tall, with the middle/top of the screen at eye level and your shoulders relaxed.
It is important to have a slight bend in the knees to prevent restriction in blood circulation from the legs to the heart. If your feet tend to get sore while standing, you may consider using an anti-fatigue mat, or cushioned mat, to provide additional support for your feet and prevent fatigue in the legs.
Office Ergonomics Do’s And Don’ts
- Protect your back with proper lumbar support wherever you choose to sit
- Support your feet with something stable if you are unable to plant them on the floor
- Take frequent breaks throughout the work day to adjust your eyes, increase blood flow and refresh your focus
- Use a hands-free headset or headphones instead of a phone to prevent strain in your neck
- Slouch your shoulders and/or neck forward while sitting or standing
- Type with your wrists at an angle
- Cross your legs while sitting as this may restrict blood flow from the legs to the heart
- Lean into your one hip while standing
- Stare at a computer screen for too long (remember to take a break at least once every hour!)
Just like with your body needs recovery from exercises, your body and mind also need recovery from work to regenerate energy and focus. Taking intermittent breaks to walk around or even do a few stretches for a few minutes will help keep your mind refreshed, your blood circulating and your eyes rested. Studies have shown that intermittent breaks during the work day can even improve your work performance!
4-Minute Break Desk Yoga Routine – Watch This Video:
So next business day, make sure you take that full lunch break and allow yourself intermittent walks to the restroom and to get water refills to stretch your legs and give your mind some rest.
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