Ah, ergonomics. Most of us know we should pay more attention to you than we actually do. Our desk jobs have us stuck in chairs that seem to be made of either concrete or marshmallow fluff. And when we get home (after a hard workout or not), we sit, slump, and slouch some more.
Of course, we know this sort of activity isn’t optimal. But most of us don’t actually know what really constitutes good (that is, natural) posture – and so accept back and neck pain as a part of life.
Good news: DIY ergonomics and back pain prevention is easy to implement and can help you make serious strides toward preventing any musculoskeletal injuries over your lifespan.
Why pay attention to ergonomics?
Ergonomics are increasingly becoming an integral part of workplace safety programs and training, as well as the subject of holistic health articles and research – with good reason.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost a third of all worker’s compensation costa are due to musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.
- Recent research has found a correlation between the amount of sitting you do and your risk of becoming disabled later in life.
- Ergonomic solutions have been shown to increase productivity in the workplace.
And at the end of the day, an effectively implemented ergonomic setup at work and at home will just make you feel better – now and much later.
Work it…at work.
Many people in the U.S. spend upwards of 40 hours a week at sedentary desk jobs. That’s a lot of sitting, and, as you’ve probably already heard, your chair is not doing you many favors, no matter how ergonomic it is.
Here are a few ways to make your workday work for you.
If you have to sit at your desk:
- This nifty but simple tool from the Human Solution will tell you how high your monitor, desk, and chair should be for optimal posture and comfort:http://www.thehumansolution.com/ergonomic-office-desk-chair-keyboard-height-calculator.html
- Learn how to sit correctly. Esther Grokhale demonstrates the proper Primal PostureTMin this TEDx presentation. The trick? A stacked spine, relaxed shoulders, and slightly forward-rotated pelvis.
If you can get a standing desk:
- Don’t just stand there! But seriously, simply standing is not enough – aside from proper posture, you still need to get your monitor and keyboard positioned correctly. Take this quiz from Ergotron to see if you’re standing in an optimal position:http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/390/language/en-us/default.aspx
- Choose an adjustable desk, if you can. We like the options from Workrite Ergonomics– and the super informative, whole-body health articles they post to their Facebook page.
Move more during leisure time.
Most of us think our hardcore (or snoozy) workouts 3-5 days a week are enough to “cancel out” the health problems that sitting can cause. Unfortunately, you really can’t make up for a mostly sedentary lifestyle, even with daily, hour-long workouts.
Instead, you want to be focusing more on small and frequent movements that you can incorporate throughout the day.
- Biomechanics expert Katy Bowman is gaining more and more followers with her Aligned and Well program. She explains, “The less you think about exercise as something that needs a special time and place, the better you can use your body.” Take a tour of her (almost) furniture-free house to see how she and her family incorporate movement and play into daily life.
Use social media to your advantage.
If you’re going to scroll through your Twitter and Facebook feeds anyway, you might as well get some knowledge into that perfectly-aligned noggin.
- From across the pond, Professor Ergo tweets about how to make your workspace more ergonomic.
- Ergonomics Plus will have you hacking your workspace in no time.
As research continues to show the significant benefits of ergonomic tools and practices, you’ll be glad you got started early on. What are your favorite ways to hack your work station and furniture at home to make it more ergonomic?