Practising Ergonomics for Comfort, Efficiency & Health

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 ChairYou can purchase ones for under $200 here or the top of the range ones are available also
  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. 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.
  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.

Best Lumbar Support Back Pillows For Better Posture

Don’t you just hate it when you don’t have a proper cushion around when you need one? I certainly cannot do anything sitting when I don’t have a proper back pillow to support me. The reason for that is punishing pain that I have often experienced working non-stop for hours.

Recently a friend of mine had to be diagnosed with a serious case of back pain owing to a lack of proper back support on his chair. The physician suggested him to use an ergonomically designed back pillow on his chair to see to it the problem doesn’t aggravate itself. He resorted to a good Lumbar Support Pillow and I must say, things are well under the reins of control for him.

I have recently purchased lumbar support for my chair and ever since that I have stopped complaining. If you too wish to avoid back pain situation from getting out of hand, I will advise you to tag along a good lumbar support to a pain free work experience. I have made you a list of only the best pillows:

  1. Fellowes Back Support: Can any chair lumbar support be as ravishing and useful as the Fellowes product? I doubt that. Not only does it look cool owing to its triangular shaped strapping design, but it works brilliantly too. It is almost a year now since I have purchased this beauty of a product and I haven’t complained ever since. It fits like a glove in the lumbar space giving you the least of strain on the backside. Its mid spinal support is good for your working posture, and you don’t even realize how time flies in a jiffy. I have never found the need to readjust it ever. It keeps your back lumbar region warm for you to concentrate unbothered on your work. I love how Fellowes has given memory foam sections that give you ample cushion even if you push back. Can comfort go better than this?
  1. Travelon Mesh Back Support: Lately the mesh lumbar back supportshave become insanely popular. The fact that they look cool too, makes them no. 1 choice hands down. Travelon brings you an extraordinary mesh back support system that unwinds and attaches on all sorts of places. You could use it at home, work or even in your car. Its easy to use elastic strap attaches on all sorts of chairs. The lumbar support system is extremely good for your body, when you are trying to get relief from back pain and are planning to see results within a week. You can also easily adjust it by moving it up or down based upon the level of comfort you are planning to achieve. Mesh fabric allows constant air flow too, so even if you are swamped with work you and you haven’t budged from your seat, you never actually get all sweaty from behind. In a way, it is just perfect!
  1. Duro-Med Lumbar Back Support Cushion: Ergonomically spot on, Duro-Med’s cushion is like a dream come true for those who are aching everyday in constant back pain. Its design is simply superlative to keep your spine in an upright position. Put it in a chair and it fills in those crucial gaps that a chair is simply incapable of filling. The result is an extraordinary feeling that you get whilst sitting. It is capable of taking all the pressure off your lower back. The shape is such that it helps you to automatically slide in a posture that is perfect for working. And the good news is there are no straps involved. You can literally carry it anywhere with you and put it on any chair you are planning to place your bum on.