According to the US Department of Labor, musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs account for about one-third of all injury and illness costs of U.S. businesses. MSDs are health issues that affect our movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.) In recent years, research has focused on establishing the links between physical activity and health, largely overlooking the important distinction between sitting and physical activity. The opportunities for long term sitting in modern times, such as sitting in a car or sitting at a desk, are unavoidable. Statistics prove the average adult spends 50–70% of their day in seated positions.
Here are some valuable tips to incorporate ergonomics into your workday:
- Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will suffer
- Manage your head position by keeping the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
- Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and use good posture while seated to balance your body weight evenly. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching.
- Your computer monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top edge of the screen at your eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck. Because lap top computers do not allow to arrange the keyboard and monitor this way, try to avoid using a lap top for an extended period. Also, be sure to rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking away from computer screens to view objects at a distance.
- Do not crunch a phone between your neck and shoulder! Try to use a headset or speaker phone if need your hands free for other activities while on a call. Repeating the abnormal position of tilting your head toward your should can do permanent damage to your neck as well as creating other uncomfortable issues.
- Your feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower your chair.
- Stay hydrated and active throughout the day by drinking the daily allowance for your weight in water and taking breaks form long term sitting (and repetitive activities) by doing some ergonomic stretching activities.Remember to stay healthy outside of the office as well by staying active on your time off with continued stretching activities, staying hydrated and enjoying your free time. Apply more ergonomic tips to your household chores and other activities to keep your body fit!