Tag: posture

Good ergonomics is essential to a productive and healthy workforce – and they cost almost nothing to implement.

Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap: “All enterprises should strive to create an ergonomically sound workspace for all employees. Quality furniture and good design is of course a great help, but it is the responsibility of each person to make sure they are using good ergonomics at their own workstations.”

Here are 7 easy-to-implement tips that will help optimise ergonomics:

1. Good working posture

The number one ergonomic priority is establishing a good working posture. “People should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks, “ Trim said. Office workers should sit with hands, wrists, and forearms that are straight, inline, and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally be in line with the torso.

2. Adjustable chairs and desks

To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, enterprises should install high-quality adjustable chairs, furniture, and equipment. “The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored to the individual using them. When it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all, “ Trim noted.

3. Proper display height and distance

Monitors and other display devices should be placed at eye level. Viewing a display should not require straining the neck nor squinting the eyes. Ergonomics dictates that individuals not be required to turn their neck to the left, right, up, or down to view a display.

4. Keyboard and mice position

Said Trim: “While often ergonomic afterthoughts, the proper keyboard and mouse configuration is just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning.” If people are reaching for the mouse at a bad angle or have to violate the inline parallel rule for elbows and wrists, they are going to lose neutral positioning. Reaching for input devices can lead to excessive fatigue, and after lengthy exposure, injury. Keyboards and mice should be accessed without breaking any of the neutral positioning rules.

5. Reducing repetitive movement

Even if an individual applies perfect ergonomic principals, repeating the same motion over and over will cause stress and eventually lead to injury.

“The best way to combat this is by changing tasks. Doing something else even for a short time will reduce potential for injury, “ Trim advised. When changing the task is not possible, individuals should periodically change the neutral positioning they are using – from the upright sitting position to standing, reclined sitting, or declined sitting.

6. Standing up and moving around

For office workers, this is a really important tip. Once an hour, workers should stand up and take a few minutes to walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window, anything that gets them out of their chair.

7. Environmental setting

Often overlooked when discussing ergonomics is the overall working environment. “Proper lighting, temperature and humidity are ergonomic essentials,” said Trim.

Lighting should not cause glare on computer screens, which means that many workplace settings should be equipped with softer light systems. Lighting that is good for reading printed material is not necessarily the best lighting for computer displays

Temperature settings are trickier since because of individual preferences, but every attempt should be made to maintain a temperature that is comfortable for as many people as possible.

Trim added that Giant Leap advise user training with all of their projects to allow people to get the benefits out of their furniture and office.

It’s been called the new cancer and it’s killing us. Sitting hunched forward looking at a screen all day causes a laundry list of health issues, from heart and brain damage to back, hip and neck problems.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that such is the growing awareness of the dangers of sitting, that in addition to ensuring correct ergonomics for desks and chairs, she increasingly works with movement specialists like Monja Boonzaier, who helps employees preserve their health in the office.

Boonzaier (who teaches locally the internationally accepted Feldenkrais Method of body awareness and movement) says that although many people understand how bad all day sitting is, much of the advice on how to combat it “is impractical and wrong.”

“For example, people are advised to sit leaning back. But how can you sit back in chair and work on a computer? A lot of advice is also centred around having a strong core because you need those muscles to hold you upright.

“It’s a good theory but people know from their own experience a strong stomach does not make you sit upright. If you watch someone who has been told to sit or stand straight they cannot maintain this ‘correct’ position without a continuous effort. As soon as their attention shifts to an activity that is interesting they will slump back to their original posture.”

Boonzaier says that dynamic sitting is a powerful solution and is increasingly taught the world over as a way to combat the ill effects of sitting all day.

“We recommend arm and wrist stretches, doing side bends to the left and the right to stretch lower back pains, and also doing glute stretches like lunges or swinging each leg forward and back while standing. You should also regularly roll your feet, rock your pelvis back and forth, shift your weight to the left and right sides of your seat, and press each ear to its nearest shoulder. “

Boonzaier says this only take a few minutes and suggests doing a few of them every hour as it will dramatically reduce joint stiffness and back pain. “Ideally people should also get up from their desks and walk around the office or up and down the stairs every hour too.”

Trim, however, warns that stretching at work doesn’t mean you can skip exercise. “The three best exercises to combat sitting for long spells are squats, lunges and wall sits. The best thing about these exercises that you can do them anywhere, you don’t need a gym.”

Trim adds that ergonomically friendly desks and chairs was also fundamental to good office health. “Amongst other things, this means having an adjustable chair that supports your spine and allows you to sit with feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Desks should have clearance for your knees. Computer monitors should be placed directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. The monitor should be directly behind your keyboard.”

There is another often overlooked aspect to sitting all day – we forget to breathe.
“Bad posture and stress at work often makes us forget to breathe properly. Every hour, take a few moments to take three or four really deep breaths. Breathe in deeply and then out slowly and press the breath out of your lungs. This can be done while stretching.”

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