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 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.

Mesh Office Chairs

Mesh Office Chairs

There isn’t just one reason, why you should go for a mesh office chair. It’s not only great for people who sweat a lot, but it’s allows for a healthier environment at your workspace. The mesh on the back side is like a ventilator that keeps channeling airflow, ensuring breath-ability. Apart from that if you choose one based on the ergonomics, you will literally forget all about pain. They are equally great to look at as well as they are the newer, modern type of chair to include in your office. These chairs help in amplifying the magnificence of your workplace. They are also considered as standards nowadays, and have seen a huge rise in demand over the last couple of years as people tend to move away from traditional leather, opting for more modern and healthier work space options.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that you only buy the best mesh chairs. I’ve come across these while scouring for one for my brother.

Mid-Back Task Chair

A cardinal element of comfort that you often see in every office nowadays. Why are people really going for it, you ask? Well, style baby! This is one of those evergreen chairs that would help you stand out, stay sit relaxed leg folded besides your desk. There is plenty of inclination this chair offers. You feel great sitting on it working. Its casters make no noise when you are crouching towards the far end of the table. You can see how all the padding goes towards the part where you are actually going to sit. It is a thickened beef of plush. You feel luxury like you have never ever experienced before. Also, it has been especially designed to soothe your back. Your spine literally loves the touch of mesh. Bid your adieus to backache. Flash Furniture Task Mesh Chair is in town, and at only $80!

AmazonBasics Mesh Chair

Comes straddling towards you another great office chair that has mesh written all over its back, AND AT ONLY AROUND $50!!! It is a mid-back design that is relaxing nevertheless. If you pay attention to the seat it has got its mesh design all over it too. So if you are perspiring its pores take care of that too. For those who are forced to spend long hours working, AmazonBasics chair serves as a perfect deal. Breathability is maintained immensely here. The height adjustment is entirely pneumatic which gets the job done in a jiffy. Seats are padded too so stretching is not a problem. The back side is gently curved and is in the shape of your back which allows you to simply slither into it without any fuss. You get T-shaped nylon armrests for added support.

Office Star Mesh Chair

Take a look at this splendid chair; it would be hard to resist yourself from sitting on it. It comes with a built-in lumbar support and a 2 to 1 synchro locking control that makes it extremely relaxing to sit on. You could push its arms up whenever you feel like using it armless. So there is literally no hassle of removing its arms all the way in order to enjoy it without the arms. The first thing, however, which is going to catch your attention, is its amazing back support. Not only does it provide a great controlling mechanism by separating out the locker from the back rest but it also looks pretty rad. Talk about a throne like feel, eh! At a slightly higher price than the previous chairs, this mesh one has higher quality mesh ensuring there is no rips or tears in the event of heavy usage – a definite buy if you intend to sit for long hours and want a quality chair.

Staples Mesh Chair

This is one of those chairs that flaunt 2 features that the others don’t. 1. A head rest! 2. Mesh for both it’s back and bottom. The head rest has been intelligently designed to cater your resounding relaxation needs. If your punishing work demands and squeezes more work hour out of you, this is the chair to opt. Because it lets you tilt your head on it, and rest for a while before carrying on your task once again. With that headrest you can kick out neck pain out of the equation. Muscle pain can be reduced with its help. The height of the office mesh chair can be adjusted as per your preference. Dimensions are outright perfect for even a large man to sit on. You can enjoy its breath ability as its holes are pretty big for the ventilation to happen unfazed. Put it in any room and it would sublime the décor with its presence.

Other Options

Rather an expensive one, but it remains actually more popular than the cheaper one included above, its all because it’s from Ergohuman. If you haven’t heard of this brand, you are missing out. However, I understand, not everyone has the money to spend, hence why I’ve included the more affordable option above.

You can’t go wrong wit LexMod – one of the highest selling brands in ergonomic chairs, including their awesome range of mesh chairs, available in 8 colors and a personal favorite of mine! A must buy at a rather affordable price for the quality provided.