Thinking Out Loud

Ergonomics: A Practical Approach to the Typical Workplace

By Theagarajan_CML

I actually have a close friend whose boyfriend works in ergonomics. The first time she told me what he did, I said “Oh, cool! So that’s like when…he…studies…how to make the workplace….more comfortable?”

To which her reaction was “Yeah, I think.”

So in case you don’t have the exact definition handy, ergonomics is: the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Cue the lifted desks and lumbar supporting desk chairs. Ideally, proper ergonomics in the workplace will help to prevent or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which affect the nerves, muscles and tendons. In a traditional office setting these injuries could include the neck, lower back and upper extremities.

Here are a few tips on how to better “fit” the job to the person so we can avoid those freakin’ neck cramps and back cramps.

Check your chair height: Once the workstation has been situated and you find a desired height. Avoid slouching down into the chair as this will increasingly add to stress on the spinal cord and discs.

Elbow Measure: Sit as close as possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on the desk and check to make sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. If not, adjust the chair.

Thigh Measure: Can you easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the edge of the chair? If it is too tight then you need to prop up your feet with a foot rest.

Low back Support: Your bum should be pressed against the back of the chair and you should have a cushion that arches your lower back slightly, this way it prevents you from slumping forward. If you’re slouching or leaning forward it can significantly add to increased pressure on your lumbar discs.

Eye Level: While sitting at your newly adjusted desk/chair, close your eyes with your head facing forward towards the computer screen. Open your eyes. You should be comfortably looking at the center of the computer screen. If it’s higher or lower, make the appropriate adjustments.

BOOM.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg but as someone who suffers from lower back pain, it’s worth a shot, yes?

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