As the tools we use in our daily lives evolve and become more complex, our bodies are forced to adapt. Everything from the chairs we sit in to the cars we drive are designed around the concept of ergonomics.
The term “ergonomics” can be traced back to ancient Greece where Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” provided detailed instructions of how a surgeon’s workplace and tools should be arranged for maximum comfort and efficiency.
This same concept is used in offices and homes around the world to reduce stress caused by awkward postures, extreme temperatures and repeated movements. Over time, these issues can lead to discomfort, chronic pain and even musculoskeletal disorders.
Review the checklist below to see if your workplace is ergonomically sound.
. Adjust your chair at the beginning of the work day so the height of the seat is approximately knee level, then sit down to ensure that something the size of a tennis ball or your fist can fit between the edge of the seat and your knees. You may have to readjust your chair throughout the day to maintain a proper fit.
. Try keeping your back as straight as possible while sitting, emulating the posture you have while standing.
. Ensure your desk chair supports your entire back. If there is not a curve in your chair that fits the lower back, try adding a small pillow or cushion.
. Sit with your monitor 16-29 inches away from your head, with your eyes positioned to look at the top third of the screen when staring straight ahead.
. When working from printed documents, use a document holder that sits next to or below the monitor so only your eyes, not your head, have to move while reading.
. Arrange your desk so you do not have to stretch and bend to reach items most often used.
. Tilt your keyboard so arms remain straight from the forearm through the hand while typing, without bending at the wrists.
. Avoid holding the phone with your neck. Frequent phone users should strongly consider getting a headset to reduce strain on neck muscles.
Avoid sitting for an extended period of time by taking a walk around the office whenever possible. Changing your position will redistribute the pressure that was focused on certain muscle groups. And don’t forget about adding exercise into your routine to strengthen core muscles and improve circulation.