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Lower back pain is a common complaint among office workers, but also a problem that is very preventable, with proper care and attention. One of the most common causes of lower back pain is bad posture. If you remain mindful of your posture, you can help ease a lot of the pressure on your spine, thereby relieving your back pain. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind that will help you have better posture.
Control Your Breathing: Controlled breathing is a great way to relax, relieve stress, and control your posture. Slow breathing through your nose will be key to your good posture, and will take a load off of your shoulders, literally and figuratively.
Take it From the Top: When using a computer at work, make sure to keep your eyes level with the top of the monitor, to avoid neck strain. Try to keep your ears in line with your shoulders, which will prevent you from leaning too far forward or backward and putting pressure on your spine.
Elbow Room: You should sit with your elbows at 90-degree angles, and keep your arms low enough so that your shoulders are not raised and tense. Doing simple stretches, like a shoulder shrug, at your desk will help to relieve tension and loosen your body.
Have Your Back: It’s very important to keep your lower back or lumbar region properly supported while seated. Not doing so causes you to slouch throughout the day, which puts a lot of strain on the spine, resulting in back pain. If your office chair does not have the appropriate ergonomic accommodations, a seat wedge or lumbar support pillow can be a cheap and effective tool to help you maintain proper posture.and decrease stress.
Not a Foot Out of Line: When seated, make sure there is a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your chair. Your knees should be positioned just below your hips, which means your thighs will be parallel to the ground. Keep both feet planted firmly on the ground. All of this will help to give you a good solid base, and to distribute your weight evenly throughout your body, which again takes pressure off of your spine.
Get Up, Get Loose: Sitting in one position staring at a computer screen all day is not good for you. Make sure you get up at regular intervals to stretch, and walk around the office. Sitting for long periods of time is bad for the whole body, limits blood circulation, and even decreases your life expectancy!
Even though you may not think that working in an office is a particularly strenuous job, it can still take its toll on your body over the years. Make sure you keep good posture and support your spine. Doing so will not only keep you more comfortable and relaxed, but will help to avoid lower back pain problems in your future.
If you don’t build your office chair correctly, then obviously it’s not going to be very comfortable, nor will it last very long, either. It’s so important to construct the chair properly, in fact, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that people follow their instruction manuals to a T if they want to maintain their chairs’ safety and ergonomic effect.
What’s not so obvious, though, is that office chairs need to be properly serviced, having all of their parts and equipment checked once every six months as recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It might sound like a tricky chore, but don’t worry. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are the things you need to check out to make sure that your office chair is just as ergonomic as it was the day you bought and assembled it.
Office chairs typically come with a tension control that allows each user to adjust the chair to a position that better compensates for their body weight. For a smooth tilt motion that’s also controlled, it’s important to check and make sure that this control is properly adjusted. When someone sits down, the chair should smoothly tilt--so make sure that it still does during your inspection.
2. Ideal Settings.
Each person has their own settings that are ideal for them, because each person has a different height, weight, and build. What might be most comfortable for one person, isn’t nearly as comfortable for the next. To make sure a chair is still as ergonomic as it can be, make sure that each of the settings can still be adjusted.
If the chair is ergonomically correct, the person sitting should have their fit flat against the ground and their thighs parallel to the floor. To correct this during the check, just adjust the chair’s height until the settings are right.
4. Height and Lumbar.
The lumbar region of the back is the lower portion where the spine naturally curves out. Many office chairs lack lumbar support, making the spine lose its natural S-shape. This causes several issues. It puts undue stress on the lower back, while forcing the spine to take an unnatural shape, resulting in pain and discomfort. If the chair is in proper ergonomic condition, the lower back should will come into direct contact with the lumbar support.
Casters are the small wheels on the end of each of the base’s feet. The best ergonomic chairs will have five different feet, complete with a caster on each. This ensures that weight is spread out proportionally, and also allows the user to move freely. If even one of the casters is broken or missing, it will throw the balance of the chair off, forcing its occupant to sit in an awkward, unnatural position.
There’s a reason why the office furniture manufacturing industry generates over $23 billion a year in annual revenue. It’s because these ergonomic chairs effectively make offices more comfortable to work in, eliminating the aches and pains that result from sitting unnaturally. If you want your chair to remain as comfortable and ergonomic as possible--if you want to get the most out of it--then you’ve got to check it for these five things twice a year.
Chair experts can help you to determine your ergonomic needs. In doing so, they will explain these facts in detail.
Adjustable Height Is the Best Height
Adjustable seating options are an excellent choice, since everyone has their own requirements. Your feet should sit flat on the floor while your back remains straight. A pneumatic adjuster allows you to adjust the height. From 16 to 21 inches from the top of the seat to the floor is a suitable size for most users.
Considering the Backrest
Consider the quality and measurements of the backrest when you shop for office chairs. The backrest should be 13 to 19 inches high and naturally support your spine. It should also give your lower back proper lumbar support.
Determine Seat Depth and Width
Your position in the chair is integral for your spinal health and overall comfort. It will also add to your job satisfaction and workplace productivity. The seat should support you completely when you are sitting. 17-20 inches as a seat width will fit most people.
The materials in the backrest and seat must be comfortable. Standard seat foam will allow most people to sit comfortably all day. If you need soft or firm support, choose chairs with triple density foam or memory foam. Mesh makes for a breathable chair, which is an advantage in a warm climate.
Last but far from least is lumbar support. It is actually the most important part of an ergonomic office chair. Without good lumbar support, you will slouch and this will strain the lower area of your spine. Adjustable chairs will help an office chair to meet your personal ergonomic needs.
In conclusion, if you have doubts about any office chair before you purchase one, consult with an expert before you make that purchase. Then your decision will be an informed one.
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
For most of us, our office workspace is what it is. You deal with the desk, chair, office layout/cubicle space and computer workstation that you were given. However, even those of us not allowed to choose our own chairs and desks can reconstruct our office space to enhance ergonomics. If you’re not familiar with the concept, ergonomics is the science of applied design to protect the human body, prevent strain and stress on joints and muscles, while maximizing productivity. The CDC highlights numerous serious health disorders stemming from poor workplace ergonomics, but you can take matters into your own hands and reconstruct that space to protect yourself.
These days, most of us spend the majority of our time on the computer while at work. This means that your computer system’s setup and layout are of paramount importance in terms of ergonomics. You need to be most concerned with two elements here:
The computer monitor should be at or just below eye level, and it should be angled so that you can see the screen clearly despite the glare of those ubiquitous fluorescents overhead. If you have to squint, hunch, tilt your head or otherwise adjust your body to see the screen clearly, it’s not set up correctly.
The primary means of interaction between humans and computers is through the keyboard and mouse. Make sure that the keyboard is at or just below the level of your arms when in a seated position. Have a wrist rest in front of the keyboard to support your wrists. The mouse should be located on the same level as the keyboard and usable without any unnecessary twisting or readjusting of your body.
You might not think a footrest is an appropriate piece of office furniture, but it is. Adding a footrest under your desk can help decrease stress and strain on your legs, knees and hips, and it can also help enhance blood flow. Not all workplaces will happily let you add a footrest to your office, but it should be considered to help protect you.
All of your frequently used items should be kept within easy reach of your office chair. Ideally, you’ll have a document holder next to your monitor, so you can reach it while keeping your elbows near your sides. This also applies to your phone. As a note, if you spend a considerable amount of time on the phone during the day, consider investing in a good headset, rather than using the uncomfortable handset. This will prevent you from trying to type and talk or listen at the same time while crunching your head to your shoulder (to hold the handset in place). A headset can make an enormous difference in your comfort and alleviate phone call-related neck, shoulder and back pain.
Follow these tips and reconstruct your office workspace for better comfort and ergonomics. Your body will thank you.