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We've talked a lot about how to relieve your back pain with ergonomic computer chairs, but there are other ways to optimize the ergonomics in your office space. Ergonomics is essentially the science of making your environment better to work in, and presumably you do more at work than just sit. Even if you spend all day at a desk sitting down, chances are you're using a computer, typing, and using a mouse, so simply having quality office chairs isn't going to cut it. Here are some office accessories that can help keep you healthier and working better.
Mouses and keyboards
If you spend your days navigating the internet using a mouse, you probably know that whoever designed the standard mouse doesn't seem to have had human hands in mind. Ergonomic computer mouses are more intuitively designed with better button placement and a shape that fits more like a handshake and less like a baseball. Ergonomic keyboards are also better designed for the body's natural positioning. When you are sitting and typing your arms should be relaxed and comfortable rather than strained and scrunched.
Although you might have one of the best chairs for back pain, you still might need an additional ergonomic accessory if your desk is not the appropriate height for your size. Your feet should rest on the floor, but your arms should be positioned naturally at your keyboard. If you need to, you can adjust the height of your chair to the desk, and the foot rest allows your feet to reach a stable surface rather than dangle.
Lumbar support pillows
The American Chiropractic Association estimates that at any given time there are about 31 million Americans suffering from pain in their lower back, and the most important part of the back rest of a chair is lower back support. Though ergonomic computer chairs generally have adequate lumbar support, if the curve of your back requires more, a lumbar pillow insert can remedy that. A lumbar support pillow for office chairs should be appropriately placed near the lower back.
Adjustable monitor arms
The last ergonomic accessory that we'll discuss here is adjustable arms for computer monitors. Depending on the height of your desk, the height of your chair, and the position of your monitor, you might be straining or sitting in an unnatural position to see your computer screen. An adjustable arm will allow you to position the monitor where you need it, which is especially useful if you prefer to alternately sit and stand during the workday.
Ergonomic computer chairs are just the beginning of office ergonomics. Equipping your work space with ergonomic accessories can help alleviate and prevent back pain and repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Americans spend about $50 billion treating back pain each year, but maximizing office ergonomics is much less costly.
Chances are that you already know that the best ergonomic chairs can keep you from feeling sore and achey, but you might be shocked to find out all of the medical issues that these chairs prevent. The best ergonomic chairs can protect you against organ problems, muscle degeneration and leg issues, amongst several other horrifying medical conditions. If you're not already aware, here are some of the medical reasons why you should consider investing in the best ergonomic chairs.
When you sit at your desk for long periods of time, your blood flows more slowly and your muscles don't end up burning as much fat as they should. This creates a situation where fatty acids can clog your heart easily, increasing your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease to more than twice the amount as those who are more active.
When you sit hunched over a desk all day, you don't use your abdominal muscles, which makes them go soft. This posture also makes your back muscles go taut. This is a deadly combination that can ruin your posture over time, causing a medical condition called hyperlordosis, which exaggerates the spine's natural arch. The best ergonomic chairs help eliminate this risk by correcting your posture as you sit, distributing weight evenly across the appropriate muscles.
Running, walking, and other weight-bearing activities help the hips and bones in the lower body to grow more dense, which makes them stronger. Naturally, a lack of such activities would cause bones to weaken.
The vertebrae have soft, spongelike discs between them that absorb nutrients and fresh blood as we move around. However, sitting hunched over causes these discs to flatten, making it impossible for them to get these vital nutrients. When this happens, collagen coagulates and dries around the supporting ligaments and tendons. The best ergonomic chairs allow these discs to expand more easily, preventing collagen from hardening.
To think that these are only some of the problems that could be prevented. Who would've thought that the best ergonomic office chairs for back pain can help with more than spinal troubles? If you have any questions about the best ergonomic chairs, feel free to ask in the comments.
Everyone knows that the best ergonomic chairs are more comfortable -- that's the point -- but few people actually know why. These chairs are designed in a way that complements the human body's natural form. You see, a lot of people tend to hunch over their desk or sit in awkward positions that are both unnatural and unhealthy. The best ergonomic chairs allow people to sit how they'd like to, but keep their bodies naturally positioned.
This, of course, also alleviates several health issues that can be caused by sitting in an unnatural position. What's surprising, though, is just how many health problems it solves. Here are some of the ways that the best ergonomic chairs and equipment make office workers healthier.
Any kind of repetitive activity -- even typing on a keyboard -- can wear down a person's joints and cause pain, because it's not what the human body was designed for. An ergonomic mousepad and keyboard will align the user's arms and hands more naturally, to help alleviate some of the strain and fatigue that typing can cause on a person's wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
The best ergonomic office chairs for back pain have something called lumbar support, which fills in the lower half of a person's back -- the lumbar region. You see, in that area the spinal cord naturally curves inward, so those other cheap office chairs that have flat backs force the spine into an unnatural shape that strains the musculoskeletal system. As the best ergonomic chairs have lumbar support that supports this area, the spine can take its natural shape.
Believe it or not, non-ergonomic seats cause circulation problems. Not only do they suspend a person's legs in the air, but they also force a person's legs into a constrained position. The best ergonomic chairs have ways to adjust so that a person can sit more comfortably -- with their feet on the ground and in an unconstrained position, naturally eliminating these blood circulation issues.
These are only a few of the best ergonomic chairs' health benefits. If you have any questions about how these seats can make offices healthier, feel free to ask in the comments.
If you prefer an ergonomic office chair, perhaps an ergonomic keyboard will be helpful in making typing as pain-free and efficient as possible. You’ll notice a difference in the way your body feels after long desk sessions. What are the five main reasons that using an ergonomic keyboard will benefit you?
1 – Ease of Use
Most ergonomic keyboards will require you to adapt to them to a degree. You’ll have to determine whether these adjustments make it worth the mild hassle. How long does it take to get used to the different typing style and each keyboard’s differences?
2 – Proper Positioning
Keeping your hand and wrist in line with the forearm should maintain a neutral, straight position. This helps in reducing the stress placed on muscles and tendons. Don’t use wrist pads when you’re keyboarding, and leave the keyboard lifts in the back flat.
3 – Media-Control Pads and Devices
Keyboards are designed to facilitate typing, but many also have ways to use Firefox or iTunes without excess finger motion. Devices like media-control pads mean that you won’t have to use your mouse as often.
4 – Keyboard Layout
Some ergonomic keyboards have programmable keys that allow you to remap keys, with 24, 36 and 48 macros including a maximum of 56 characters. These keyboards can be switched between Dvorak and QWERTY layouts. These aid in typing comfort and ease of use.
5 – Keyboard Configuration
The natural wave of an ergonomic keyboard allows it to pivot on an axis. Some can be used as standard keyboards or configured into positions that fit your hands and arms more naturally. The best ergonomic models can resemble the layout of the most expensive keyboards without requiring any kit to expand the splay and tent of the keyboards. Using an ergonomic keyboard as a standard keyboard is beneficial when you have limited space.
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