Ergonomics is the study of the type of work you perform, the environment in which you work, and the equipment you use to carry out your role within the workplace. The goal of ergonomics is to set up your office in such a way that you can maintain good posture throughout the course of your work day. But simply purchasing ergonomic equipment will not promote optimal spinal health. You will need to adjust your equipment to suit your own body.
Here are three easy ways in which you can create a spine-friendly workspace:
Adjust your chair
You will need to adjust your chair’s height so that you can place your feet flat on the floor and position your elbows at a 90-degree angle when you are resting your arms on your work surface. When sitting in your chair, you should be able to press your tailbone against the back of the chair, and you should have sufficient room to place a lumbar support cushion below your waistline.
Adjust your screen
Your computer’s screen should be approximately an arm’s length away from the rest of your body, and your gaze should be level with the top of the screen. If your gaze is out of line, you will need to raise or lower your screen to reduce strain on your upper spine.
A cluttered workspace can cause you to sit farther away from your desk, increasing your risk of back problems. Monitor lifts can increase your desk space, allowing you to adopt an aligned posture, while printers positioned away from your desk can encourage you to get up and move around, which increases blood flow to your spine.
To avoid keeping your back in the same position for prolonged periods, you must get up and move around for at least one or two minutes out of every 30 minutes. You do not need to attend yoga classes every day to improve your back’s functioning and prevent back pain. Stretching at regular intervals throughout the day will promote blood flow to your spine, contributing to an overall feeling of relaxation.
Here are three simple stretches that you can do to take the strain off your back:
Shrug your shoulders
Shrug your shoulders to your ears, and hold this position for two to three seconds before rotating your shoulders back into their usual position. Repeat ten times.
Squeeze your shoulder blades
Adopt a standing position with your arms at your sides and your feet placed firmly on the floor. Raise your arms up and clasp your hands behind your head. Stretch your elbows back while pinching your shoulder blades together as tightly as you can. Hold this position for ten seconds before returning to your normal standing position. Repeat five to ten times.
Give yourself a big hug
Adopt a standing position, and place your left hand on your right shoulder and your right hand on your left shoulder, effectively giving yourself a big hug. Hold this position for ten seconds, focusing on your breathing while you do so. Repeat five to ten times.
Just because you sit at your workspace for hours at a time doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a life of pain and suffering. Proper ergonomics and regular stretching will keep you comfortable and feeling at the top of your game while you’re studying or at work.Written by Ashford University staff.