Nowadays most of us work indoors and do not have to carry around heavy machinery or lift heavy things. However, that does not mean that our work does not take a toll on our bodies. When you sit behind a desk, several hours a day, your body is going to feel strained, especially if you do not have a good ergonomically designed workspace.
Ergonomics make all the difference
Most people assume that ergonomics only relate to back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome, but it involves so much more than that. If you are working in an uncomfortable position, you are going to notice that you are not only in pain, but also get fatigued much quicker.
Do you want to see more? Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxk7YpacgV4 a video made by Dr. Amy Grabowski and compare that to your own workstation. Go on – take a minute, I will be here when you get back.
If you went and looked, it does not take a professional chiropractor to determine that your own workstation may not meet all the requirements that were discussed in the video. If you have a stiff neck, sore back, sore hips or just feel fatigued after working, you may need to pay attention to the following.
Getting yourself in order – starting with the chair
For starters, look at the way you are sitting in the chair. If you are anything like most others, and me, you are slouching, leaning forward to see the computer screen better. There is the first problem. It is important that you let the chair do what it is supposed to do and support your back.
Check the height of your chair while you are at it. Are you feet comfortably hitting the ground? If not, you want to grab something and make sure that your feet are directly in contact with the ground somehow. This is going to reduce the strain on your body while sitting down.
If you are lucky (or smart) enough to have already purchased a chair with Lombard support, it is important that you use it correctly. Most people do not. Make sure the arch is pressing against the small of your back. Otherwise, the support is actually going to force you to have an awkward position.
The right distance
Always remember that long distance never works out. Obviously, you are sitting in front of your monitor right now (spooky how we can tell right?) reach forward and see if you can touch the top of your monitor without straining or having to lean forward. If you can, that is great your monitor has the right distance. If you cannot, move yourself or the monitor closer.
Another thing to remember is that you do not want your keyboard to be too far away. You never want your arms to be at more than a 90-degree angle. Anything else just feels uncomfortable is going to put pressure on your arms, wrists, and shoulders. So again, without straining, can you reach the keyboard or do you need to move it a little closer?
It is easy to avoid pain
It is true that you are not going to end up in the hospital right away if you do not have an ergonomic workstation, but eventually not using the a computer the right way is going to help you. It may take a little while to get used to all these rules and regulations, but you will see it is going to pay off in the end.
The last thing you want to do is feel fatigued when you are walking away from the computer. Work can take a lot out of you mentally, but if you feel tired physically after sitting behind the computer, you have a different problem.
Being Funny While In Pain Does Not Work: Ergonomics Matter
When people ask me what I do for a living I think I have a pretty cool answer: I write. Now when people hear that you are a writer, they assume that you are like Stephen King or Michael Creighton. Not… even… close. I write for a few big internet sites, mostly top five, and top ten lists with a humorous approach.
People often assume that if you are funny on the internet, it means you are funny all the time. Of course, this is not true. Writing is a job for me (though one I enjoy tremendously, do not get me wrong). One of the problems with writing is writers block, not knowing what you want to write about. The other major problem? Fatigue and back pain.
There is nothing worse than having a great idea and wanting to put it down, only to feel your back stinging like crazy. There have been times that I have thrown my hands in the air and simply given up on writing an article (deadlines can often be extended) simply because I was too uncomfortable to write.
Asking too much?
For many people this may sound like a “first world problem,” being uncomfortable while you get to do what you love. After talking to a friend who is achiropractor, I found out that I was not the only person who felt uncomfortable while sitting down.
Part of the problem is the fact that I slouch a lot, I do not have everything written out before I start typing (that would kind of defeat the purpose) so instead I sit in my chair a lot, read other articles and look up information.
While I do use the zoom function of my browser quite a bit, I realize that I am straining my eyes quite a bit to make sure that I see what is written. From the discussion that I had with the aforementioned chiropractor, this is part of the problem.
Prevent Instead of Cure
So even though I was looking for away to make my back feel better I should have looked no further than my workstation. I now realize that the simple chair that I picked up from IKEA for 20 dollars is not going to provide me with the support that I need, especially if you sit in it for hours straight. Who would have known?
So the first thing I did was get a new chair, one that actually had Lombard support. It may have been a little more expensive than 20 bucks, but I noticed that if I sit in it correctly, it supports my back. I also went out and got one of those mouse dealies that protect your wrist from carpal tunnel syndrome. It may have seemed uncomfortable the first 30 minutes of using it, after I was done writing the first few paragraphs of a new article I did not even realize that I was using it anymore.
I was also taught that you should not be too close to the monitor. I do not wear glasses, but sometimes fonts on the internet can be quite small (especially if you are looking for a specific phrase or word) so most of the time I just lean forward to get a better view. That is apparently a no-no now too.
Writing really gets better
I really improve my productivity when I am writing in an optimized workstation. I feel more comfortable and can type longer than I did before. It becomes easier to sit down for an extended period of time, especially if there is no way for someone to push my deadline back. So I have to admit my new ergonomic workstation really helped physically – now if only it could do something for my writers block…
About the Author: Jason Munroe instead is a freelance writer of 28 years old. He currently resides in California and is writing a series of articles on how to treat lower back pain in Sacramento, CA with the help of a Sacramento chiropractor. He has been married for five years and has one child.
Image: goosmurf / Flickr