According to the United States Department of Labor’s 2008 report, an estimated 23,231,750 Americans were office workers. This large group of people spend most of their day seated at a desk using a computer, keyboard and mouse.
For those seated at a desk, ergonomics is more important than you may realize. Ergonomics is intended to modify the workplace to the comfort of the worker, minimizing discomfort and fatigue. Poor ergonomics and staying in the same position for extended periods of time can cause a multitude of problems, back pain among them.
The chair you sit in can make all the difference and is the most important part of ergonomics. Ergonomic chairs support the back and promote good posture. According to Spine-Health.com, there are some things that are vital to the features of a good ergonomic chair. Adjustable seat height is important, as it is best for the user to be seated with feet flat on the floor, thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk. The chair should have lumbar (lower back) support, and the backrest should be adjustable. It is also important that the chair swivel to accommodate reaching different areas of the desk without straining in addition to the chair having at least 5 legs and being able to roll without much effort.
There are multiple forms of ergonomic chairs available on the market, and it is recommended to find one that works best for your body type and medical history. Other factors including seat width and depth should be taken into consideration.
Feet should be flat on the floor, arms should rest comfortably on your desk and your wrists should be flat when typing.
Those with desk jobs sit for an average of 7 ½ hours per day. The human body isn’t designed to sit still in the same position hour after hour, day after day. By remaining immobile, tension in your muscles will set in from being stuck in one position. “Deskercise” is a catch phrase that is gaining more and more popularity as people are becoming more aware of the implications of desk jobs.
There are many simple stretches that can be performed easily and effectually right at your desk during your workday. The most important part of these stretches is to breathe normally through the stretch and move slowly. If you move through your stretches too quickly, you may not get the full benefit of the stretch, as some joints are not able to move through a full range of motion quickly and need to be moved slowly.
The easiest deskercise stretch that can be performed is to slowly roll your neck side to side and front to back. Another recommended move is to simply raise your arms above your head and stretch your back. This will stretch your back muscles and relieve tension and stress. Many people find that keeping a balance ball at their desk either at work or home will improve posture and strengthen their core.
Movement throughout your workday is important. By taking short breaks throughout your day, you can improve circulation, ease muscle tension, lower stress levels and cause a mental boost. Even if you just walk to the end of the hallway and back, or to a coworker’s desk and back, a little movement can cause great benefits.