Ergonomics – it’s become an immensely important consideration for both individuals and employers. Even UCLA has started offering ergonomics guides and information for students, teachers and others. Whether you’re an office worker or an employer, it’s important that you understand the key concepts in workplace ergonomics in order to prevent injury, maximize productivity and reduce ergonomic injury-related lost time from the job.
Reducing Strain and Stress on Key Body Parts
The entire point of ergonomics is to position office equipment and to support the body in such a way that it reduces strain on key body parts. These include the following:
- Upper and lower back
- Thighs and legs
Key Ergonomic-Related Injuries
33% of all workplace injuries involve musculoskeletal injuries generally caused by poor workplace ergonomics. These injuries cause a significant amount of lost time at work, which impacts both the employer and the employee. Some of the conditions caused by not implementing the correct ergonomic plan can include carpal tunnel, eye strain/headaches, tendinopathy, bursitis and many others.
Key Concepts to Understand
There are several different concepts at play in workplace ergonomics, including posture, correct workstation setup and more. These include the following:
- Neutral Neck Position – Your workstation, desk and office chair should allow you to maintain a neutral neck position. A computer monitor should be at least 20 inches away from your body, and it should be directly in front of and slightly below your eye level.
- Spine Support – Sitting for long hours puts serious stress on your spine and back/shoulder muscles. To correctly support your spine, you need to sit with your feet flat on the floor, and you should have an office chair that provides good lumbar support (either adjustable or with extra padding in the lumbar region). Armrests should be included with the office chair, and they should be adjustable to eliminate shoulder strain.
- Arm and Hand Positioning – The position you’re forced to hold your arms and hands in when seated at your computer can put additional strain on your body. When seated and using the keyboard, your elbows should be at 100 to 110 degrees (open). The keyboard should have a negative tilt so you can keep a neutral position in your hands and wrists. Keyboard trays should be wide enough for both the keyboard and the mouse, so you can use them without raising your arm to another position.
Breaks, Stretching and Exercising
It might sound counterintuitive, but office workers should engage in regular stretching and exercising while on the job. This helps to eliminate stress and strain, and enhances blood flow, which can increase comfort as well as productivity. Regular breaks are also important to help prevent workplace injuries.
- For every 20 minutes of typing, you should take a 20-second break
- For every 20 minutes of typing, you should look away and focus on the middle distance for 20 seconds
- Every hour, you should get up and walk around the office or take a stroll to the break room
- Every hour, stretch your legs, arms, shoulders and wrists to enhance blood flow
These tips and key concepts will help enhance workplace productivity, but also reduce the chance of injury for office workers
You have come to the realization that it is time to purchase a new office chair, but with the large variety of options available it can become overwhelming to determine which chair will wor
k best for you. Although it may seem like a simple purchase to make, there are many components on an office chair that should be considered prior to purchasing. The four main parts of an office chair are the seat, the armrests, the mechanism, and the backrest. All of these parts combined can lead to a healthy and comfortable sitting experience, but if one is overlooked or ignored it can also lead to pain and discomfort. Perhaps the one part of an office chair that is most often overlooked is the backrest.
A good backrest will provide the support needed to keep you sitting comfortably for extended periods of time. When determining which backrest is best suited for you it is important to keep a few things in mind. The first aspect to consider is if you have any prior medical conditions that affect how you sit throughout the work day. Many workers in the United States have sat in a cheap office chair that does not properly fit them for most of their careers which inadvertently leads to experiencing back pain and aches throughout the work day. Others have suffered from injuries or accidents that also affect their sitting experience. Luckily, with the vast assortment of ergonomic chairs available there are may different models and designs specifically tailored for all different types of injuries and back pains.
For those that suffer from lower back pain, it is best to find a backrest that is going to provide lumbar support. The most common type of lumbar support found on many different office chair models is a contoured backrest. The back forms an “S” shape which molds to the natural shape of the spine. It is crucial to find a backrest that can be adjusted in height in order to properly position the lumbar support to meet your body’s specific needs. Another unique option that is available for lower back pain sufferers is an inflatable lumbar support, which is a small air pump inserted into the lower part of the backrest that can be inflated or deflated depending on the level of support that is needed. This option is available in high-end ergonomic chairs.
For those that suffer from upper back pain and shoulder pain it is advisable to find a backrest that is going to provide full back support. An office chair that is considered to have a high back will support both the upper back and shoulders. Chairs that are deemed to have a mid back or low back are a good option for those that do not suffer from upper back pain but should be avoided by those that do. Another option for those that need extra neck support and like to lean back in their chairs is a headrest.
Whether you suffer from upper back pain, lower back pain, or no back pain at all, the backrest is one of the most important aspects of any office chair and should be taken into consideration when searching for your next new office chair.
To view SitBetter’s wide selection of ergonomic office chairs please click here!
In this modern and technology-centered world, the average worker is spending more and more time at work, crunching numbers, working at computers and perhaps most importantly, just trying to get ahead in a tough economy. This means that workers are also spending more and more time sitting in poorly designed chairs, which can have negative health effects if not given the proper attention.
Office chairs, despite the amount of hours we spend sitting in them, do not seem to get the attention they deserve. The experts at Sitbetter.com specialize in finding and selling chairs that are well designed and comfortable for extended hours spent at the office. The Verte chair is one example and is specially designed for those with chronic back pain. As an executive ergonomic chair, it allows the sitter to customize the amount of pressure at eleven different points of contact. Unsurprisingly, the chair itself is considered a medically approved necessity for back pain sufferers, sometimes even covered by insurance providers.
An office worker may think that by asking for a more comfortable chair, they are being difficult or not being a team player. On the contrary, working in the right kind of chair can make you more productive, thereby making you more of an asset to your company.
The following are some things to look for:
Is the chair a one-size-fits-all model, or can you adjust it to your comfort?
Does it recline and swivel so that you can be active at your desk throughout the day?
- Design and Aesthetic
This is important, as no one wants to sit in an unattractive chair. Elements such as color, size and overall shape can affect the look of your office as a whole.
- Level of Support
If you’re not a chronic back pain sufferer, and are just looking for a chair to prevent any deterioration of your health, a medically approved chair with a high level of support may too much for you. Make sure you choose a chair that doesn’t provide too much support to an already healthy back.
Overall, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of a quality chair to maintain a healthy back.
Neck pain is becoming a more prominent medical problem with recent studies claiming that up to two-thirds of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. The causes for neck pain vary, with the most common being attributed to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back. The good news? In most cases, neck pain can be alleviated without surgery and can be treated conservatively. If you experience minimal neck pain, it may be recommended to apply heat or coldness to the affected areas. For more serious conditions, other treatments may include medication, ergonomic reform, spinal adjustments, physical therapy, or it may even be as simple as purchasing a high quality ergonomic office chair.
Specialty high back ergonomic office chairs have often proven to significantly help reduce the level of pain felt in the upper back and neck with their body forming design. Some even come with unique features not often found in other chair designs such as a removable neck roll, a built-in headrest, an adjustable headrest, or neck cushions. If a new ergonomic office chair does not fit into your budget, consider another cost-effective method utilized by millions across the world, a neck support pillow.
Neck support pillows are an inexpensive, unique way to cradle the neck and provide support when sitting or lying down. They restore the natural curve of the neck which can be affected by routine activities such as sleeping in an odd position, typing on a keyboard, staring at a computer screen, or not sitting with proper posture. They also provide the support needed to keep the spine in line. Neck support pillows are most commonly used when lying down at night, allowing the user to get a better night’s rest and wake up refreshed and rejuvenated. They are also often used in conjunction with an office chair, to provide the support necessary for sitting multiple hours a day. Another common place you will find people using a neck support pillow is when traveling, a great idea for those that will be spending hours on a plane and would like something comfortable to lean back on. They are also used to help treat people with sleep apnea, insomnia, and migraines.
One of the main benefits of owning a neck support pillow is their light-weight design. They are essentially weightless, making it convenient and easy for just about anyone to transport them wherever they are needed such as when going on a trip, going to work, or taking a trip in a car. They can be folded up and stored away in luggage when traveling, maintaining their same shape once you arrive at your destination.
Neck pillows come in a variety of different materials and some even have additional advantages.
- Inflatable Neck Pillows – Inflatable pillows allow the user to determine the amount of air and stiffness needed to support their neck. They are also the best for traveling as they can fit in tiny spaces when deflated and not needed.
- Neck Roll Pillows – Neck roll pillows can be easily positioned to fit the curve of your neck when seated or when lying down. They can also be used as a lower back support if you experience lumbar pain as well.
- Travel Pillows – Travel pillows help keep the neck supported during travel by plane, train, or car. They prevent your head from rolling to an unnatural position and keep your head upright.
- Sherpa Pillows – Sherpa pillows are machine washable, allowing you to keep your pillow clean and fresh, beneficial for those who travel. They are soft to touch and allow for air to flow to cool a bare neck.
Whether you experience neck pain while sitting, working, sleeping, or perhaps all three, a neck support pillow will help alleviate your pain at a low-cost!
To view SitBetter’s selection of inexpensive neck support pillows, please click here!
Most of our jobs and lifestyles require sitting for multiple hours a day the majority of the work week. You could be sitting in your office chair tasking, sitting during a meeting, sitting waiting to be seen, or sitting in your car driving to and from work. For some of us we actually spend more time sitting down throughout the day than we do sleeping at night! Sitting for extended periods of time can take a toll on your body, especially if you are not sitting with proper posture. Bad posture can lead to unnecessary aches and pains or may eventually lead to ailments much more serious such as experiencing chronic back pain every time you sit. There are a few principles that everyone should take into consideration when fitting yourself to an office chair that can help you reduce and avoid pain, strain, and fatigue while sitting.
- Angles: Angles are a key factor that can help contribute to your overall comfort while sitting. Make sure that your chair allows for you to sit at a 90° angle in the following places: your knees, hips, and elbows. Angles at less than 90° have the detrimental effect of impeding circulation. In static seated situations, this can result in premature fatigue and discomfort. In general more “open” postures and chairs that support you in “open” postures, will allow you to sit more comfortably for longer periods of time. Before purchasing an office chair, make certain you know the exact seat height measurements to ensure the chair is going to work for you. If you are a shorter or taller individual you may need a specialized chair cylinder that allows the chair to be raised higher or shorter than an average cylinder would. Your armrests should also allow for height adjustability to make certain you are typing with your arms at a 90° angle.
Lumbar Curves and Support: Stand flat against a wall with your heels and shoulder blades touching the wall. Now place your hand behind your lower back, does it fit? If you cannot fit your hand behind you and have very little space between the wall and your lower back, you have a flat back and probably need a chair with very little lumbar support. If you can fit a flat hand behind you, you have a medium curve and need a medium level of lumbar support; at the very least you will need a chair with an “S” shaped back to give you some level of support. If you can fit a balled up fist behind your back, you have a deep curve, and need a higher level of lumbar support. This will require a chair with an “S” shaped back as well as some additional lumbar support such as a chair that can offer air lumbar support or self-adjusting lumbar support.
- Seat Height and Depth: Measure the depth of your seat. Be sure you have two to three inches between the edge of the chair and the back of your calf. Adequate seat depth distributes your weight evenly over the longest possible surface area. Inadequate surface area can impede circulation, cause numbness and result in difficulty when sitting for longer periods. If your seat depth is too long for your body you may find yourself having to lean forward to type, not allowing you utilize your back rest and receive proper back support. A seat slider can help remedy this problem which is a seat depth adjustment that permits the user to pull the chair out making it longer if they are taller or push the seat in if they are smaller. Proper seat height encourages you to sit back in your chair, resulting in correct body position with respect to the rest of your workstation.
- Motion: Critical to pain-free sitting is a chair that allows you to stay in motion. The more you move, the more you encourage blood flow, and the less stiff you become. Properly adjust the chair’s tension control to achieve your desired level of motion. Rule of thumb: static positions in and of themselves are a source of pain and fatigue. If your job requires you to sit often and for extended periods of time be certain to have a chair with tilt tension and tilt lock control which will allow you to lean back in your chair when a stretch break is needed.
Remember these simple fitting principles and you will find yourself sitting more comfortably and working more productively. If your current work office chair or home office chair does not allow for this, consider purchasing a new chair. It may seem like quite an investment, but in the long run it will save you from experiencing uncomfortable pain while sitting and keep you sitting better.
To view our wide selection of fully adjustable ergonomic chairs for back pain click here!