Dec 052012

Physical comfort is an incredibly important aspect of productivity. Despite the adage “mind over matter,” your comfort will affect both your work and your health. Injuries from improper posture and body positioning can have negative life-long consequences for your muscles, bones, and joints. Although ergonomics are important for anyone performing any activity, it is especially important when you perform the same movements every day, whether that is lifting crates or sitting at a desk and typing on a computer. Fortunately, with the right body positioning and office furniture, you can work in a pain-free environment.

Ergonomic Desk Chair

ErgonmicsThe ergonomics of your desk chair are one of the greatest factors in your comfort. That doesn’t mean all you need is a soft seat, though. You should have an adjustable desk chair so that you can be sure to position the chair at the best height for yourself and the desk. Your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor with your knees about level with your hips. This should also allow you to keep your forearms even with the desk (either flat or slightly up-tilted) while your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle.

An ergonomic desk chair should also provide lumbar support, curving inward to rest against your lower back. If there is a gap between the chair and your back when you sit properly, you should bring a small pillow to work to stuff between your lower back and the chair. Without this support, your hips will slant backward, making your back and shoulders curve around like a “C”. This causes strain and fatigue all along your spine, from your lower back into your neck. This strain can cause back, shoulder, and neck pain as well as headaches due to constricted blood flow in these vital areas.

Supportive Accessories

Not all employees have the freedom of choosing their own desk and chair, which are often supplied upon employment and picked to match other existing furniture. There are other accessories you can find on your own or request through the company to create a more comfortable working environment for yourself. If your chair is too tall when adjusted to the proper desk height, keep a small stand or stool under your desk to rest your feet on.

Ideally, the top of your computer monitor should be at the height of or slightly below eye level. Your head should rest directly above your shoulders, not forward, which dramatically increases the tension in your neck. Your chin should also be parallel with the floor. If your monitor is too short, causing you to look down and forward, this will strain your neck and back. Monitor stands can be bought from office supply stores, or you can use a stack of thick, sturdy books to make up the height.