zErgonmics

Sitting at a desk

You may have encountered the term "ergonomics," which is surfacing more and more in the workplace. Ergonomics is a science concerned with designing and arranging things people use in the safest and most efficient manner possible.

Ergonomics is often applied to people who sit at a desk all day. While it seems harmless, sitting for long periods of time can actually cause back pain. It unloads weight on the back, especially if the chair is poorly designed.

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The basic rules of desk-related ergonomics:

Make sure your chair molds properly to your back. Many employers concerned with the safety of their workers purchase chairs that support the low back. If you are too short or too tall for your back to rest properly in these chairs, or if your company does not offer ergonomically designed chairs, consider bringing in a rolled-up towel. Place it behind your low back to reduce the amount of stress on the back.

Make sure your feet rest flat on the floor. If this is a problem, use a footstool. Proper foot and leg alignment will ease back stress.

While typing on a computer, your forearms and thighs should be parallel to ensure proper shoulder alignment. If necessary, use a pad to support your wrists while typing.

When you type, your neck should not have to crane constantly, as your eyes dart from keyboard to monitor. The monitor should be at eye-level or slightly below eye-level.

Get up and move around every half hour, even if it's just a quick stretch by the side of your desk. Your back enjoys movement, so reward it occasionally.

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