You go to work each morning, settle into your chair, sit up straight, start your computer and begin working away. By about 3:00 p.m., you may notice that your once perfectly poised posture has turned into a slouch, and it may get worse from there.
According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2010 musculoskeletal disorders made up a whopping 29 percent of serious workplace injuries in American employees. Sadly, this number has only increased. Sitting in weird positions in a disorganized workspace can contribute to a wide range of injuries including muscle strains, lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s time to say goodbye to slouching and straining. We’ve rounded up the best way to set up and sit at your desk to avoid the scary consequences of days spent sitting down.
Here are 6 tips for improving your workplace ergonomics
Computer Screen & Your Eyes
It’s important to remember to make your line of vision perpendicular to your monitor. If you are looking down at your computer screen, it puts lots of extra strain on your neck. This neck strain can leave you in danger of injuries such as cervical disc herniation and headaches. A quick and simple trick to making your screen eye level—stack books under your monitor until it’s the right height.
Anything that you use continuously—your desk, phone, mouse, coffee cup—can all be a stressor on your body if you constantly are reaching out to grab it. Instead of always contorting your body in an uncomfortable position, keep these items you use most often within a foot of where you are sitting.
If your arms are stretched out, it can cause your shoulders to pull forward. This can cause shoulder injuries and back pain. To avoid pain or injury, always keep your arms at a 90-degree angle and in a comfortable, resting position.
Your back should be supported at all times. Without any back support, your back tends to curve, leaving it exposed to disc herniation or lower back strains and sprains. If you don’t have a chair with proper back support you can get creative with pillows, or consult with one of our therapists for recommendations.
Your Legs & Feet
Feet should be flat on the floor and legs should be bent at a comfortable, 90-degree angle. Even if your legs are crossed or you have just your toes touching the floor, it can put unnecessary stress on the supportive muscles and hinders proper blood flow—which can lead to chronic pain. Try keeping your legs uncrossed and flat on the floor.
When you sit down, you never want to be leaning forward. Every inch your head goes forward, the spine feels like it’s taken on an additional 10 pounds! Talk about tons of strain on your muscles. Relax your shoulders and keep arms at a 90-degree bend.
Little changes to your posture matter, and can be the difference in avoiding serious injuries and chronic pain. Fortunately, most of these issues are preventable.