If you sit at a desk for most of the day and notice that when you stand up at the end of the day, your back is sore, you may be suffering from poor ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the study of how the body responds to stress, physical and emotional. In terms of its relation to back pain, we will consider the physical effects of ergonomics.
When your mother told you to sit up straight, that was an adjustment of your ergonomics. But when it comes to your office and mom not being around, you need to learn how to set up your office space to encourage you to sit up in a manner that supports your spine and back.
For most of us, we simply go to the cube or desk to which we are assigned and sit in the chair that’s already there.
But this can be the beginning of back pain for many people.
The chair that you are sitting in may not be adjusted to the specifications that are right for your body. And by simply adjusting your body to the chair, you can be increasing the likelihood of back pain and back troubles.
The chair should be something that should adjust to your specific body type. If the chair can not be adjusted properly, your employer should be able to get you another chair that can adjust properly.
If you have a work safety department (and you should), try to find out who you can have come to your desk for a desk area ergonomics consultation. This person will be able to come to your desk and help you arrange your desk in a healthy manner.
The chair that you have should be able to:
• Allow you to sit up straight
• Allow you lumbar support to create a natural curve in the spine
• Allow your head to rest on the back and upright
• Allow your knees to rest beneath your desk without pain
• Allow your feet to be flat on the ground or on a foot rest if not
• Adjust up and down to help with movement
• Allow you to move from one area to another without shifting the adjustments on the chair
• Place your arms flat on the arm rests and in line with your desk
Typically, a good office chair that promotes healthy back health is going to cost a fair amount of money – around $500 or more. But when the employer realizes that you will not call off for back pain because you have a healthy office environment, this is generally enough incentive to get you the proper equipment.
If you work at a computer like so many people do, you will want to adjust certain things in your workspace so that your posture is appropriate for protecting your back.
• Place the monitor lower than your eye line
This will help keep your neck relaxed and your eyes from becoming too strained. Of course, you don’t want to bend down to see your monitor as this will harm your neck and back.
• Place your keyboard directly in front of you
Your forearms should be straight when you are typing, with a gentle bend in your wrists as they sit on the edge of the keyboard or an ergonomic wrist rest.
• Your mouse should be within reach
And aligned in the same manner as your keyboard so that your wrists aren’t bending and you don’t have to lean over.
• Keep things that you need within reach
If you have items you use every day, be sure to have them in places where you don’t have to reach too far, straining your back. Things that you don’t need on a daily basis can be stored off of your desk or in a separate location altogether.
• Keep heavy things in healthy areas
If you need to use heavy items, be sure that you don’t have to strain to pick them up and pull them to the area where you are.
• Make sure to get up every hour
The more you get your body out of your chair, the healthier your back will be. Be sure to get up to walk around from time to time.
Some people also find that using an exercise ball as their desk chair can help them with lower back pain, but you will need to find one that’s tall enough to reach your computer – which can be difficult to do.
This ball makes you engage your abdominal muscles so that your back is automatically supported.