The average office worker spends 1700 hours in front of a computer each year. Not counting the time spent in front of the computer for entertainment or personal purposes, this means that about 20% of a worker’s year is spent sitting in front of their screen.
Imagine spending 20% of your daily life in a position that hurts your body. No doubt, this is plenty of time to cause some long-lasting, painful conditions. You’ll often hear (maybe even from yourself) office workers complaining of neck and back pain, digestive issues, and lack of sleep. All of these conditions can be related to having poor posture for long periods of time.
This is where ergonomics swoop in for the rescue. Ergonomics is the study of how to make daily tasks easier on the human body. Using ergonomics to your advantage is crucial to make your work life more manageable.
Neck Pain No More
Neck and back pain is incredibly common for office workers. It’s easy to find yourself hunched over a keyboard, head down, with your shoulders bunched to your ears. However natural it is to find yourself in this position, this position is not natural to your body. Your spine should be stacked, vertebrae on vertebrae, and you head facing straightforwardly. In order to accomplish this, you’re going to need the right office furniture. Office Furniture is crucial to ergonomics, and you will want to invest in high quality products to ensure workplace comfort. Some products that can help you ensure you have an ergonomic office include things like an office chair that supports your spine, a desk that puts your keyboard and monitor at the correct position for your height, and a footrest if your feet don’t reach the ground.
Desk chairs are usually adjustable and easy to conform to your body type and desk height. So long as you are sure your chair has enough lumbar support, your chair should suit you and your space perfectly. However, desks can be a more difficult situation. Your arms should meet your desk at a 90 degree angle, and your monitor should be right at eye level. Some people find that an adjustable desk is the best fit for this setup. An adjustable desk is usually capable of becoming both a standing desk and sit down desk. Some are run electronically, and some are run on hydraulics. Adjustable desks are a fantastic way to ensure that you can bring the desk to exactly where it best suits your body. Otherwise, you may find it necessary to take a trip to office and furniture stores and test run a couple heights to see what fits you best.
Once you have your desk chair and desk picked out, you’ll need to tweak a few things to ensure your neck and back both get the break they need. First things first, you’re going to need to ensure your monitor is at the correct height. Some desks come with a little shelf for your monitor to sit on, and are fairly accurate to the height necessary to reach the ergonomic zone. However, there are also ergonomic monitor stands you can buy to place on a flat desk top. You will also need to ensure that your feet can sit flat on the ground. Sometimes you need a footrest to accomplish this, and that’s okay! Placing your feet flat on the ground will ease stress from your lower back. With these measures in place, you are almost perfectly ergonomic. However, we need to address the computer itself.
The Eyes Have It
Ergonomics doesn’t just have to do with the spine, you also need to pay attention to your eyes and hands. Eye strain is incredibly common for office workers as their monitors are often too close or too far from their face. As a rule of thumb, your monitor should be about an arms length away from your body. To accomplish this, you may need to purchase a monitor stand for your desk, or adjust the mount for the monitor itself. You’ll also want to find a keyboard that allows your hands to sit shoulder distance apart. This is not a common design for most keyboard, but you can find split keyboards that allow for your shoulders to spread and relax into the right position. You’ll also want to find a mouse that suits your wrist well. Remarkably, there has been a change in mouse designs as of late. There are now mouses that sit more vertical, allowing you to rest your hand on the mouse the same way you might grab a water bottle or hold a pencil. Our wrists are designed to have our thumbs facing more upward, but most mouse’s face our thumbs to our left. (If you are right handed) Finding a mouse that sits your hand where your thumb sits upward will significantly improve the ergonomics for your hands.
Ergonomics are incredibly valuable to a work environment. While it may take time to nail down the perfect setup for your office, you won’t regret taking the time to ensure your chair supports your back, your desk supports your arms, and your feet are supported on the ground. You will likely find your neck pain is reduced significantly when you raise your monitor. By investing in the proper equipment, you may just save yourself pain and chiropractic bills later down the line. You may also find that you have more energy since you won’t be dealing with as much pain, and in this culture, we need all the energy we can get! Give yourself more energy, and maybe even more money, by investing in the right equipment. The sooner you take care of your body, the more you may be saving it from damage.