Creating better ergonomics can help you avoid pains and strains that are common from repetitive motion or staying in the same position for long periods of time. Here are our top tips to create better ergonomics at your workstation and in your car.
Are you dealing with a pain in the neck? Or maybe it’s in your back or shoulders. If you work in front of the computer or drive a lot, it very well could be the ergonomics at your workstation and in your car causing the strain. You see, the human body was never intended to stay sedentary for as long as our modern lifestyles cause it to be. Whether you are at work or behind the wheel, Taylor Pilates and Fitness has some tips to create better ergonomics.
What is ergonomics?
You may have heard about an ergonomic keyboard or desk, but besides knowing they are supposed to be better for you, it might not be clear precisely why. Ergonomics is an area of science that covers how you arrange or design workplaces, products or systems—anything that involves people—so the people who interact with them fit better with those items to minimize the risk of injury and improve productivity.
Ergonomics is different than posture. Posture is the way your muscles and skeleton work together to hold your body upright and impacts how you breathe and move as well as your body’s alignment. Good posture is when you achieve “neutrality” where the body’s internal organs and systems are positioned to work in the most efficient and effective way.
Improve ergonomics at the workstation
The first step in customizing your workstation to better suit you and create a neutral position is to adjust your chair. There are ergonomic chairs on the market, but any adjustable chair can be positioned to create the optimal space and desk posture to keep you comfortable at work. Here are the essential elements to pay attention to:
Once you have made adjustments to your chair, the next thing to tackle is the placement of your keyboard. Adjustable keyboard trays allow you to position the keyboard so your shoulders, arms and hands are low and relaxed. You also don’t want to lean forward. Ideally, your keyboard should be about one to two inches above your lap, so it might be necessary to adjust your chair to get this position right. Your keyboard should tilt slightly downward or stay level to avoid strain on your wrists. Many people opt for a split keyboard that keeps your hands in a neutral position.
Your mouse should be within easy reach and on the same surface as the keyboard. Your wrists should stay straight with your hands slightly below the level of your elbows. Your monitor should be about arm’s length away and directly in front of you. To put your neck in a comfortable position, the top of your monitor should be at or just slightly below eye level.
It’s important to get enough movement throughout your workday if you sit in front of a desk. If possible, take two-minute breaks every 30 minutes to stand and walk. Movement and changing your position frequently allows your muscles to relax.
Improve ergonomics in the car
Whether you have a long road trip or a commute that keeps you behind the wheel for long periods of time, adjusting your seat and steering wheel can help you avoid aches, pains and injuries.
When you’re the driver, you should be able to reach the steering wheel, car controls and pedals without stretching. When you can press the foot pedals completely and keep your back against the seat and your knees bent, you are in the right position. The seat should be slightly reclined to release the pressure on the discs in your back. Adjust the seat height so that your hips are aligned with your knees, but also slouching your head to avoid hitting the roof.
The headrest should be in the middle of your head. Your neck should be in a neutral position to avoid strain. If your vehicle doesn’t have good lumbar support for your back, you can add a cushion to help.
Avoid having your phone or wallet in your pocket while driving. When you do, you sit unevenly and that will eventually cause discomfort or pain.
Keep your hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock position to allow your arms to be in a lower position. The traditional 10 and 2 position requires that your arms are raised a bit too much which can cause strain. Your steering wheel should not come in contact with your legs.
Frequent rest breaks while driving are also beneficial. This gives your body a break from staying in the same position and moves blood to muscles.
Feeling the strain from long hours at the office or on the road? Schedule a Pilates session, Functional Fitness or OOV class today. Please call or text Taylor Pilates and Fitness at 303-472-6743 to schedule your next session.