Ergonomics Don’t Always Have to be Expensive
Many believe that office ergonomics inevitably involve expensive solutions such as fancy new chairs or sit stand desks. This does not have to be the case however. Knowing the causes of pain associated with desk work can enable you to find a cheap effective solution, whether that is small exercises and stretches, or low cost ergonomic equipment to help adjust your posture.
Neck and Head
The neck muscles can be easily strained form poor posture, such as leaning over your laptop, pushing your head forward to look at the screen, or twisting your head and neck to look from documents back to your monitor. The muscles becoming stiff and tight can contribute towards the development of pain, therefore many of the easiest ways to treat it are through stretches and correcting one’s posture.
Another way to help is to ensure that your monitor is in the correct position. Monitors should be at eye level so that you are not constantly looking down at the screen. When working from home this can be done with a laptop riser, which adjusts the height of your laptop so that you aren’t pushing your head forwards or tilting it down. These can also include document holders which you can use to ensure that you aren’t twisting your head between what you’re working from and your monitor screen.
Wrists and Hands
As people are increasingly using their computers and laptops more and more for work, school and leisure, wrist injuries are becoming more common. Even using your laptop for a few hours personal use in the evenings can cause problems if you aren’t maintaining correct positioning of your hands. Many people end up putting pressure on their wrists and forearms, either against their desk or their keyboard itself when they are working. This in turn restricts blood flow to the area and can cause pain and injury to the wrist and fingers.
One very simple thing we can do to ensure that we are protecting our hands and wrists is ensure that the computer keyboard is the correct distance from us. The keyboard should be close enough that having your elbows at your side, and your arms at a right angle allows you to comfortably reach it. Another simple thing you can do is to use a wrist rest when typing, so that your wrists are cushioned and thus you are putting less pressure on them.
Back pain at work is almost always caused by poor posture or strained movements. The design of your workplace and your chair can contribute to both of these. If you have to frequently twist, reach or are cramped, then back pain can result. Adjusting the spacing of your monitor keyboard and mouse so that you do not have to reach for them every time you want to use them, and so that they are not too close that you are cramped can ensure you don’t cause muscle strain. As we have already discussed, your keyboard should be comfortably within reach when your arms are at right angles to your side, and your mouse should be a similar distance.
Another simple fix for back pain at work is ensuring that you have proper lumbar support. You don’t need a fancy new chair to do this. Getting a lumbar support cushion that you can slide behind you can add to the support that you chair gives you and help mitigate back pain.
The most simple explanation for most pain, including leg pain, is posture. Your body is built to move and being static for too long restricts blood flow to the muscles. This can cause pain. Crossing your legs or your ankles whilst you sit, or resting one foot on your knee whilst sitting can all contribute to putting further pressure on a part of your body and making the restriction of blood flow worse.
The simplest thing you can do for your legs is to ensure that you get up regularly to take breaks and walk around.
If you find that this is not enough, you should evaluate your seating position. If your legs are pressing too much on the edge of your chair it may be a little too high for you and you may need a foot rest to take some of the pressure off your legs.