Ergonomics and What it Can Do for Your Back Pain
Does your back, neck or wrist hurt? You are not alone. Approximately $1 billion is spent in the United States per week on the effects of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
But working a desk job shouldn’t—and doesn’t have to—leave you in pain. With a few easy changes, you can make your office ergonomically correct—adjusted to suit your body—and reduce or eliminate those aches and pains.
It is important to invest in an ergonomic office chair or to make a few changes to your existing chair to make it more ergonomic. Look for the following characteristics:
A comfortable cushion—This one may seem obvious, but hard chairs aren’t going to reduce your pain. Choose a chair with a comfortable cushion or add one to your existing chair.
Adjustable seat height—Your chair’s seat height should be adjusted so that your thighs rest parallel to the floor and your feet lay flat on the floor. Your arms should also be able to rest naturally on the part of your desk that contains your keyboard and mouse.
Adjustable backrest—The ability to adjust your backrest up and down, as well as its angle, is essential. To prevent slouching and enhance your posture, angle the backrest forward.
Arm rests—When you aren’t typing or performing other tasks with your hands, it’s important to have someplace to rest your arms. An arm rest should be set low enough so that your shoulders are relaxed, and your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle.
Lumbar support—This feature is built-in to many office chairs, however, if your chair did not come with it, we have a solution. Try rolling up a small towel and strapping it to the back of the chair so that it fits comfortably into the curve of your lower back while your feet rest flat on the ground.
Capability to swivel and roll—Unfortunately, it’s challenging to add this feature to an existing chair. But, if you’re in the market for a new one, make sure it has wheels. Reaching for items on your desk or in close proximity to your desk can cause you to strain, so the ability to swivel and roll around eases the burden.
Yep, you need to adjust your desk, too. Scooting in your chair, putting your stuff down, and getting straight to work isn’t going to cut it. Check the following items to ensure that your desk space follows the principles of ergonomics:
Desk height—Use this workspace planner from Ergotron to determine the desk height that will work best for you, whether you choose to sit or stand.
Mouse and keyboard—Align the ‘B’ key on your keyboard with the center of your desk, or with wherever you will be sitting. Place your mouse as close to your keyboard as possible. If you are using a keyboard tray, place your mouse on the tray with it. Make sure that your keyboard and mouse are sitting at a height that forces your elbows to bend at a 90-degree angle so that you can type with your wrists flat or angled downward.
Monitor—Place your monitor at roughly an arm’s length distance from where you are sitting and adjust the height so that the top of the screen (not the casing) is at—or slightly below—eye level.
Miscellaneous tools—Keep only the items you need daily on your desk and organize them in a left-to-right workflow. Everything else can go in a drawer or in another part of your office.
That wasn’t too hard, right? Take your newly configured, ergonomic office out for a spin and let us know if you notice an improvement in your pain!