Ergonomics in the Workplace
We often don’t think about the fact that when we work in an office we spend most of the day hunched over a desk, sitting in a chair that probably isn’t very supportive. Or that we are constantly squinting at a screen and tapping away at a keyboard. While it might not feel like physical strain, if we really stop and consider what we’re putting our bodies through everyday in the office, it can be shocking.
For the benefit of your health, it’s a good idea to think about ergonomics, and how they can have a positive effect on your workplace health. Ergonomics is the practice of aligning your workspace so that your body is more comfortable and under a lot less strain. As you spend so much time at your place of work, it can have a massive effect on your body – it’s definitely worth considering ways to keep yourself in better health. Simply going about your daily routine could be doing you more harm than you know, so considering ergonomics in the office would be a smart move.
Here are just some of the negative effects a bad ergonomic workspace:
- Chronic pain – especially in the back, neck and shoulders
- Joint stiffness – especially shoulders, elbows and wrists
- Weakening muscles
- Range of motion loss
- General discomfort
- Loss of coordination
Considering ergonomics in your office will greatly reduce the chances of you suffering from any of these symptoms. Here are some easy ways you could start to introduce a more ergonomically sound set up into your working life.
Take regular breaks
Human bodies are not designed to sit around all day. It’s much more beneficial for your health to make an effort to move a bit more. Even short walks, such as to the bathroom or kitchen to make a cup of tea, will give you a moment to stretch out and get your muscles moving properly.
Watch your posture
Whether you’re sitting or standing, always think about how it’s affecting your body. When you notice yourself hunching or slumping over, or maybe putting too much weight on one side of your body, make a note to correct yourself and straighten yourself out. Your back muscles will thank you later!
Catch any pain early
If you feel like you’re already affected by bad ergonomics at work, do something about it sooner rather than later. For example, if you notice a persistent pain in your wrist from typing, make sure you adjust your desk chair height or keyboard angle immediately to ensure that you don’t carry on doing it – the pain will only get worse if you do. The longer you try and ignore the pain, the worse it will become. If an action you do regularly at work is causing a physical issue, stop doing it that way!
Make your workspace ergonomically sound
There are many ways you can do this. Purchasing an ergonomic chair for your desk is probably the most obvious way – it will protect your back, shoulders and neck while you’re sitting down all day, and make sure you are sat in the right way to protect your whole body from strain. You can also do more simple things, like adjust the height of your regular chair, move around your keyboard and mouse until they feel more comfortable to use, or adjust the distance of your screen from your eyes so you don’t have to lean forward.
One of the least ergonomically sound things you can do is stiffen up, or sit rigidly so that all of your muscles are tight. Keeping your body loose and relaxed while you’re sitting at your desk is an easy way to make sure you don’t encourage any recurring muscle tension or pain.
It can be easy to forget about looking after your body while you’re sat at a desk – when it doesn’t feel like a physical strain there’s nothing to remind you of what’s really going on! But it’s a good idea to keep ergonomics in mind, as it can really make a difference to your muscle health, and keep you comfortable and out of pain while you’re at work.