What do migraines, fatigue, blood vessel constriction, jaw pain and digestive issues all have in common? They can all be caused by bad posture.

Businesswoman with pain in back

You might think a sore back is the worst that can come from sitting at a desk all day. Poor ergonomics can negatively affect your productivity, personal life and have lasting effects on your health.

For many people reading this post it’s spent sitting at a desk. It’s critical to recognize the importance of office ergonomics. You also need to understand the steps to make sure you’re comfortable at work.

Your standards workplace desk is not set up to properly accommodate most people in the workplace. Most things in the world, from crash test dummies to office temperature, are designed for the average man.

And the average man in North America is 1.75m (5’9″).

This means that for the majority of the population, the standard office desk is improperly configured. The rest of us need keyboard trays, monitor arms and adjustable footrests.

Ergonomics in the workplace tips:

1. Adjust that monitor

Adjust the height of your monitor so that the top of the screen is at, or slightly below, eye level. This will prevent neck strain.

Monitors should stay at an arm’s length away from you while you’re in a relaxed, seated position.

If you’re noticing yourself squinting when reading on your monitor, increase your computer’s text size.

2. Stand up

Research is finding a relationship between sitting for long periods and health concerns including obesity, increased blood pressure, and higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease according to Mayo Clinic.

Sit-stand desks are a great way to increase blood flow while staying productive.

Along with giving your legs a stretch, standing while working comes with a ton of other benefits:

  • Prevents Deep Vein Thrombosis (when clots form in your legs as a result of restricted blood flow).
  • Helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
  • Reduces sluggish and lethargic feelings.
  • Can burn up to 340 additional calories in two hours.

Experts have long advised people to stand at their workstations for 15 minutes every hour.

3. Improve your posture

A proper sitting position is important to reduce back stress.

You should have a fully adjustable chair and the seat pan should be able to move back and forward.

Ideally, you’ll have a two-inch gap behind your knees to the front of the chair seat and your feet flat on the floor.

4. Never lock your chair backrest

An unlocked backrest let it move naturally with your body’s motions and prevents your back from being jarred. That can lead to injury and added stress on the muscles and ligaments.

Using a footrest can also allow you to ensure your feet are flat on the floor, even when you’re leaning back in your chair. This allows the chair to support your back and relieve stress and pressure on your spine.

5. Type right

Keyboard trays are a must for people under 1.8m (6 feet) tall.

Resting your keyboard on top of a standard desk can cause an unnatural position for your wrists. It can lead to the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome.

To reduce the risks, keyboards need to be located in a position which allows your forearms and wrists to be aligned in a natural position, not bent.

Placing a gel pad under your wrists is a great way to align your forearms and ensure that your wrists are positioned comfortably.

Adjustable keyboard trays can also be used to ensure that the height of the keyboard keeps the wrists in-line with your elbows. The keyboard tray keeps you from leaning forward to type. The armrests of your chair should be adjustable as well so that your shoulders are not raised up. Remember, keeping your body in a normal, relaxed position is the best way to avoid strain.

Talk to your HR team

If you’re concerned with the desk ergonomics in your workplace, speak with your manager and HR team. They will help find a solution that means you can work effectively and comfortably.

You’re spending a third of your life at work… you might as well be comfortable.

Concerned about workplace ergonomics but you don’t sit behind a desk?

Read our blog “Lifting is part of the job. Back injuries shouldn’t be.” for tips about workplace ergonomics for manual material handling now!

Julie McFater

Director of Marketing

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