Practising Ergonomics for Comfort, Efficiency & Health

Ergonomic-Office

What is Ergonomics?

In layman’s terms, ergonomic pretty much means, being comfortable and efficient while performing your day to day activities. It also means less stress. Not only on your body but for your mind as well. Changing to a fully ergonomic lifestyle for me, not only released the stress in my body and muscles but also my mind. You see, it’s the constant day to day sitting at our desk, whether for pleasure or work, that we, without realizing it, develop bad posture. This over time, affects many parts of our body and eventually leads to chronic neck, back and general joint issues.

Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability (source).

I first came across the term ergonomics (or human factors) when I was in my mid-twenties working in a local newspaper office. There were ergonomic signs posted everywhere to ensure employees were sitting at their desk correctly. Remember these? How-To-Sit-Ergonomically Back then I thought these posters were for geriatrics. I guess I was wrong, these posters actually served a purpose because as it turns out workplace injuries, just as simple as sitting at our desk (as comical as that sounds) are the leading cause of lost productivity is the US (source).

Fast forward 6 years and I found myself with back, neck and joint issues for dismissing the importance of ergonomics. I started realizing that my levels of stress where increasing and I could feel tension and pain in my upper back, shoulders and lower neck (from the ear line downwards). I was getting headaches that started out once a fortnight and steadily became more frequent. At first I dismissed the headaches and tension and it wasn’t until I visited a physiotherapist that I was told that I may develop a chronic condition if I don’t correct my ways. It was a combination of poor posture from everyday activities such as bad posture habits and using poorly designed office furniture that had caused a herniated disc in my neck.

Since then I focused on ergonomic practices at home and at work and have seen major improvements in my symptoms. Ergonomics have alleviated my headaches, neck and back pain. My stress levels have also improved and of course I have developed a great posture which I never had in my entire life and overall I am a happier person for it.

How Can You Fix Your Posture?

If you have been suffering from neck and pack pain as a result from years of bad posture you need to visit a good physiotherapist. They will identify your problem areas and guide you on what you need to do to correct them.

Performing proper exercises and stretches is a step in the right direction when it comes to fixing problematic posture and joint issues.

One thing is for sure, no matter how many sessions you have with a physiotherapist, the fact that there is outside stress factors that are affecting your posture and consequently your joint health will not cease. You need to create an ergonomic home and work environment if you want to fix bad posture, neck and back pain and other nagging joint issues.

How Can Ergonomics Help?

You can buy many ergonomic things to make you more comfortable and prevent aches and pains. There is some very interesting products out there!

You can buy many ergonomic things to make you more comfortable and prevent aches and pains. There is some very interesting products out there!

Practicing ergonomics is a major factor in preventing the development of back, neck and joint problems. Choosing ergonomically designed home and office furniture for me was what put me on the road to recovery from my neck injury that was caused from years of incorrect posture and poorly designed office furniture.

The way ergonomic furniture such as my ergonomic chair and ergonomic mouse and keyboard are designed, helped correct my bad posture habits without me having to constantly remind my self “James, straighten your back, shoulders back…”, the furniture actually did the work for me by its clever design.

Ensuring that you are practicing good ergonomics is one of the most important aspects for maintaining healthy joints. Just like a good mattress is necessary for a restful sleep, so should be the other part of your day when you are awake. If you sit at your desk more than 2 hours per day, you really need to practice ergonomics and maybe think about using ergonomically designed products such as ergonomic chairs, ergonomics keyboards and ergonomic mouses to make your life more comfortable and to save your joints.

Simply put, the way ergonomic products are designed, helps in taking the guesswork out of maintaining correct posture.

There is pretty much a team of people that go into the research, development and design of every ergonomic product or practice that’s out there. There is a whole science behind this thing!

For example, an ergonomic mouse is researched, designed and made in a certain way so that the mouse interacts with your ‘human movement’ in the most natural, comfortable and non-stressful way, ensuring you don’t develop wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome after years and years at a computer.

Ergonomics or office ergonomics, is all about ease of use, comfort and reducing injuries, mouses, keyboards and chairs designed in a way to made 8 hours of office work more pleasurable.

Injuries You Can Prevent By Living Ergonomically

Going ergonomic is the way to ensure you avoid any injuries from spending long hours sitting at a computer. Injuries can be caused to any joint, muscles, tendon and ligament in your body causing muscle pains, aches, strains and tensions all throughout your body. Most often, injuries occur in the neck, upper back, lower back and shoulders. On a more serious note, when left untreated, you can develop debilitating chronic conditions.

Back and Neck Injury: These can range from a herniated disc to, over years of incorrect posture and work habits, disc degeneration which requires surgery to correct.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

CTS is a wrist injury which is one of the most common injuries caused at a workplace. This occurs from the lack of wrist support, such as when using a mouse on the computer. It is also one of the most treatable injuries.

Tennis Elbow: Did you know, you can get tennis elbow without even playing tennis! Tennis elbow is a damage to the tendons in your elbow caused by the repeated hand and wrist movements that we do when we use a computer. Think, day in day out we do the same hand and wrist motions required to move the mouse and type on a keyboard. Over years this creates damage to the elbow and causes uncomfortable pain.

Trigger Finger: Caused by the repetitive motion of using the fingers such as clicking the button of the mouse and typing on a keyboard. Trigger Finger is the inflammation of the tendons in the fingers and causes your fingers to hurt, your movement may be restricted and the inability to type.

An Ergonomic Office Looks Like This

Don't worry, ergonomic keyboards and mice don't all look like this. This is the most extreme ergonomic keyboard I've ever seen!

Don’t worry, ergonomic keyboards and mice don’t all look like this. This is the most extreme ergonomic keyboard I’ve ever seen!

In the world of ergonomics, the ergonomic products available keep growing. I have ranked the products according to what I believe is the most important/popular ergonomic product.

  1. Ergonomic Office Chair
  2. Ergonomic Keyboard and Wireless Ergonomic Keyboards
  3. Ergonomic Mouse and Wireless Ergonomic Mouse
  4. Ergonomic Foot Rest – This is an ergonomically designed foot rest that is placed under your desk for your feet to rest on. It is important that you feet are elevated at a certain height.
  5. Ergonomic Mouse Pad with Wrist Cushion
  6. Ergonomic Keyboard Wrist Pillow Platform – This supports your wrists at the required ergonomic height when typing on a keyboard.
  7. Ergonomic Wrist Rest/Wrist Cushion – The is an ergonomically designed wrist support to ensure no wrist injuries.
  8. Ergonomic Arm Rest – This is a specifically designed extendable arm rest that extends out from the desk to support your arm at the same level as your wrist.
  9. Ergonomic Rest Wrists are available for laptops also if you do not use a desktop computer and wish to support and cushion your wrists when typing on a laptop computer.

Office Chair Floor Mats

chair-floor-mats

Posture is important, especially when you are working. If you aren’t paying attention to the ergonomics entailed, you are going to end up with a whole lot of body pain. If the situation persists you might end up making frequent visits to the doctor.

Hence, it is important you pay attention to all those ergonomically right things that make your life not only easier and simpler but also less painful. One such product that pays attention to proper office ergonomics, is believe it or not, a chair mat.

Office Chair Floor Mat: Why Do You Need One?

An office chair floor mat isn’t just a fancy thing that the multitude has been using. There are many benefits that it reaps in.

  1. To begin with, it saves your floor from scuffs and indentations that might come from regular movements of rolling tires on the surface.
  2. If you have one under your feet, rolling a chair on it takes 80% less effort.
  3. If you are not using an one,then with all that effort to move around, over a time span, you might end up succumbing to leg strain and back ache.
  4. Another great thing about using one of these products instead of carpets is that carpets often generate static electricity that could prove harmful for your data. Did you know that any contact with static and it might affect your computer system.

Now that you know why it is crucial to purchase this product, let’s find out which one will be best for you.

Top 3 Office Floor Mats

I have made a list of the best three you will find here:

Best Seller

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One of the best chair mats that you could find, this works perfectly with any type of chair and floor you have. There is literally no hassle when you are moving around sitting in your chair. It doesn’t create any kind of stress on your legs either. It comes with an extra protective lip that extends a bit inside the table. So, even if the chair goes well under the desk, it still stays atop the carpet chair mat. There are studded anchors on its back that help in creating a proper grip. It is designed to bear heavy weight easily, and is made of a very strong material.

Bamboo Style

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Another one of my favourites is this Anji Mountain product that walks in with the goodness and the freshness of bamboo. The reason it’s my current favorite is because it’s different to the standard chair mats for offices. Most people go for plastic, but I like to be a little different. It is quite alluring to look at, and stands out easily as a distinguished mat underneath your legs. The bamboo is super smooth to touch. So, even if you are bared leg, you are going to love its seamless feel. If you are wondering if it will be able to contain, do not worry. It comes with non slip dots that ensure there is enough friction when you are in a steady position. Maintaining it is super easy! I clean it with a damp cloth and it shines as good as new.

Polycarbonate Floor Protector Mat

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To those who are fans of the dark, Office Marshal comes with a Polycarbonate floor black office mat that has just the right thickness and super comfortable to put your legs upon! It takes all the pressure from the casters and absorbs it in its thickness. The good thing is that it is sound absorbent too. So, if you move your chair it wouldn’t make that squeaking scratching noise. The mat stays in place owing to its anti-slip backing that makes sure you carry out your work unhindered. Cleaning it is a piece of cake too. Moving around on it will curtail your stress, allowing you to show immense potential in the work you are trying to carry out. Say goodbye to leg fatigue.

Now that you know the best ones out there, it is time you invest in the best desk floor mat and make the right choice. Remember it is all about you trying to increase your productivity by decreasing body stress levels.