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Ergonomics for Life

By: Evan Healy PT, DPT, CSCS

 

Over the past few years our work lives have changed. Many jobs that were once requiring in person office time, have now shifted towards a hybrid or fully remote position. The most common injuries we see related to these new job habits include low back and neck pain. A recent systematic review estimated the 1-year incidence of a first-ever episode of low back pain to range between 6.3% and 15.3%, while estimates of the 1-year incidence of any episode of low back pain range between 1.5% and 36% 1. Low back pain is the leading cause of activity, limitation and work absence throughout much of the world and  is  associated  with an  enormous economic burden.  Furthermore, at any given time, 10% to 20% of the population reports neck problems,16,39,88,215  with  54%  of  individuals  having  experienced  neck  pain  within  the  last  6  months. 2

The purpose of this blog is to provide references of proper desk, chair, and monitor setup to reduce strain on your musculoskeletal system. 

1) Optimize your workspace

Seat Height: the goal is to reach a seated height where your feet are flat on the floor, knees are in a bent position, and where your hips are slightly higher than your knees.

Seat Depth: a comfortable depth will allow for proper back support while remaining comfortable behind your knees.

Keyboard/Mouse: place your keyboard and mouse within a range where you can reach if your elbows are bent. This will allow for your arms to remain supported while not over straining neck musculature by overreaching. 

Screen Height: the top of your monitor shoulder be close to eye level, allowing eyes to gaze comfortably forward.

Standing Desk: these desks allow for regular changes in position, thus reducing prolonged time in one static position.

 

2) Consider breaks

By taking regular breaks (as able), you provide your body the opportunity to move. Movement generates muscle activity and circulation which helps to relax those structures that become tight with prolonged postures. 

 

3) Mindful Posture

While having ergonomic furniture (adjustable chair, standing desk) helps, posture is heavily reliant on our behaviors. Improving your awareness of the way you sit/stand will provide you with the ability to voluntarily correct less ideal positions. 

 

By implementing these workplace ergonomics tips, you can create a more comfortable and supportive work environment that promotes better physical health and productivity. Remember to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed to ensure optimal comfort and well-being. Your body will thank you for taking care of it in the long run. Please reach out to your trusted physical therapists at POST PT for further information regarding ergonomic assessments.

 

References:

 

  1. Hoy D, Brooks P, Blyth F, Buchbinder R. The Epidemiology of low back pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2010;24:769-781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.berh.2010.10.002 
  2. Côté P, Cassidy JD, Carroll L. The factors associated with neck pain and its related disability in the Saskatchewan population. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000;25:1109-1117
  3. Image: https://tsunami-axis.com/products/homeworking-setup-advice-to-avoid-damage-to-your-body