Ergonomics Tips to Make Your Work Station More Comfortable
More than 80 per cent of the working population will experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime. If you, like many people, sit all day at work, often with poor posture, you may be increasing your risk of developing low back pain.
In addition, as your workload at the office or home increases, so do repetitive actions, such as typing, using your computer mouse, and talking on the phone. These routine tasks seem simple, but they can add a level of physical stress to the emotional and mental stress of getting the job done. In fact, repetitive strain injuries have skyrocketed in the last 20 years due to the increasing reliance on workplace technology.
Therefore, sitting down for long periods of time, repetitive movements, and awkward work positions may lead to pain, injury, and discomfort. Here are five ergonomics tips that will protect your back and make your workstation more comfortable.
1. Sit Tall and Maintain Good Posture
The secret to good posture is maintaining your spine’s natural curves. If your spine is not properly aligned, your muscles and ligaments have to work harder to keep you upright. When sitting, make sure that your ears, shoulders, and hips are in line and your buttocks are at the back of the chair. Sit tall with your chest high.
2. Adjust Your Chair
Your shoulders and lower back should rest comfortably against the backrest. You can use a lumbar support pillow or a rolled-up towel to give your lower back extra support. Set the height and angle of your seat so your thighs are parallel to the floor, with your knees in line with or slightly lower than your hips.
Here are some ergonomics tips to help you adjust your chair:
- Stand in front of the chair and adjust the height so that the highest point of the seat is just below your knee.
- Sit on the chair and make sure that your knees are bent at approximately a 90-degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor.
- Adjust the backrest forwards and backwards as well as up and down until it fits the hollow in your lower back.
- Sit upright with your arms hanging by your sides. Bend your elbows at about a right angle and adjust the armrest height until they barely touch the undersides of the elbows. Remove the armrest from the chair if the right level cannot be achieved.
Lastly, don’t forget to take a quick stretch break or change position every 30 to 45 minutes. Your back, neck and shoulders will thank you for it!
3. Adjust Your Computer Monitor
Position your computer screen directly in front of you. The top line of text on your screen (not the top of your monitor) should be at your eye level. This helps to keep your neck in a neutral position while you work.
If your monitor is not adjustable, stack books or other materials underneath it to raise it up. Also, allow the muscles in your eyes to relax by following the 20/20/20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away from you.
4. Check the Position of Your Keyboard and Mouse
Place your keyboard high enough to allow you to rest your arms with your elbows at your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor.
If you use a laptop regularly, consider buying an external keyboard so you don’t need to choose between straining your neck to look down at the monitor or straining your arms to reach up to your keyboard. Place your mouse as close to the keyboard as possible to avoid unnecessary reaching.
5. Keep Moving
More important than maintaining a ‘perfect’ posture is regularly moving and changing your positions. Avoid sitting in one position for too long. Change your position every 30 to 50 minutes. And take a quick stretch break or, even better, get up and move around.
Also, if your work requires you to be on the phone a lot, consider using a headset or earphones instead. If you must use a phone, use your hand to support your phone against your ear and alternate sides regularly. Do not cradle the phone between your ear and your shoulder.
Work is stressful enough as it is. Try these ergonomics tips to reduce stress on your back and visit a chiropractor to develop a care plan to keep you pain-free, so you can live your best life.
To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional.