4 Ways to Instantly Reduce Pain with Workstation Ergonomics
Suffering for your work should be left to the tortured artists. It’s time to do something about any pain caused by your workstation with the help of ergonomics.
No pain no gain, right?
That way of thinking might fly at the gym as you push through an extra minute of planking but should never be your mantra in the office. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. So, if it hurts to do your job, then something’s wrong with your workstation and it needs to be fixed.
Ergonomics, or the study of people and their working environment, is all about helping us to work comfortably and effectively. We’re all unique so there is no single perfect workstation. That’s why it’s important to invest in adjustable furniture. But even if you don’t have a sit-stand desk, there are still some easy ways to quickly transform your workstation. Try these simple tricks to reduce pain and increase your productivity:
1. It’s (ad)just as wellFor a while I was jumping in the car after my partner had driven it and wasn’t moving the seat position because I couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t long before I started feeling pain and even put my back out! The minor effort of repositioning the seat so that I wasn’t reaching too far made a huge difference and the pain went away. Just like car seats, most office chairs have some sort of adjustability. You can play around with the different levers to find the best position for you. Ergonomically it’s recommended that you sit:
- hips as far back as they go
- forearms resting on the desk without your shoulders hunching
- feet flat on the floor or a footrest
- knees at the same height or lower than your hips
- tilting back about 110-130deg
Ideally you will have ergonomic furniture, but if not, you should at least invest in ergonomic accessories that allow you to sit in the right position. You can adjust the lumbar support of your chair with a back rest and the position of your feet with a footrest.
2. Prime positionThe next step is setting up everything in your workstation to minimise reaching and straining. Place all the things you regularly use within easy reach, like your keyboard, mouse and phone. Your arms should stay close to your body with your hands at the same height or slightly below your elbows. A wrist rest can help you to find a comfortable typing/mousing position. Take the time to learn your keyboard shortcuts to keep mousing to a minimum. Make sure that your monitor is directly in front of you. It should be about an arm’s length away. Use a monitor riser to position it so that the top of the screen is at the same level or just below your eyes. Having everything positioned ergonomically will reduce a lot of unnecessary pain.
3. Lean on meOne of the easiest ways to reduce pain while you’re working is to simply lean back in your chair. Sitting up straight takes a lot of effort and overloads your back muscles. This will cause pain and use more energy. Having your chair tilted back about 110-130deg and resting back into it will take pressure off your back. This incline has been shown to offer the lowest compressive force on lumbar discs along with the lowest spinal muscle activity. Switch it up every now and then by working on a comfortable lounge or a beanbag to let your back relax.
4. Make your moveWhile it’s not good to be twisting or reaching too far in your workstation, it is important to get up and move occasionally. If you have a sit-stand desk, try to stand up a few times throughout the day to work. Talking on the phone and reading are good tasks to do while standing. If you can’t stand to work, get into the habit of standing every hour and stretching or walking. Make excuses to move, like getting a coffee or walking over to speak to your colleague face-face rather than emailing. We’ve all become more sedentary in general. The experts are warning that prolonged sitting is now associated with a number of major health risks including Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease, and is also causing musculoskeletal pain. Incorporating movement into your day stops you from getting stiff and helps your circulation so that you are less likely to get pain.
With these quick fixes you can seriously reduce pain and free yourself to focus on your work, making you more productive and happier.