Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sit For Success: Posture Tips and Ergonomic Advice for You!

With all these headlines on medical journals claiming that "sitting is the new smoking," office employees everywhere are becoming more aware about the importance of posture in the workplace. Sitting right at work can do wonders for one's health, helping to prevent everything from arthritis to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you experience office-related pain, today's article is definitely for you. Enjoy these tips for ergonomic pain relief!

Head and Neck

Neck Pain
Head and neck strain at work comes most often from turning one's head repeatedly, usually to view a misplaced computer screen. Ideally, the subject of your vision should be at eye level, with the object approximately an arm's length away from your face. Employees who keep computers off to the side from where they normally would look when sitting upright risk terrible muscular pain in the neck and shoulders. At the same time, individuals who use computers in rooms with lots of ambient light, or who keep the screen to close, risk headaches and eye strain.

* The Solution: Adding flexible monitor arms to an office computer setup allows users to adjust their screen. If you find you cannot easily move your computer to the most healthful position, a monitor arm will allow you to adjust the screen. You can also move the screen away when not in use. Plus, the device saves desk space!

Upper Back

Pain in the upper back typically comes from slouching at work. Leaning over a desk to view a computer, paperwork, or to see something more clearly puts all the weight of your body on the spine alone. Over time, this kind of chronic slouching causes poor digestion, a worsened metabolism, headaches, and even jaw pain (as well as a whole host of other problems).

Upper Back Pain* The Solution: In short, stop slouching. There are tons of great hacks to make this change a habit. For those who slouch in order to see clearly, glasses are best (quality prescription lenses may be purchased as low as $10 to $30 from some online retailers). Another simple option is reevaluating your workstation, making sure the desktop and chair adjustments meet your needs. If you have trouble forming habits, tying your upper body to the back of your chair will keep you upright. But the most effective method for preventing slouching is through ergonomic standing desks where users can stand up to work. With time to build up muscles, and frequent seated breaks, users have more energy and reduced pain!

Arms and Hands

Wrist painUnfortunately, the arms are often one part of the body that gets neglected when considering ergonomic needs. However, they are actually one of the most important. Office workers use their arms and hands a lot, in typing, writing, and performing other daily functions. Unfortunately, keeping the arms bent down or up can interrupt blood flow. And when the hands aren't parallel to the forearms, it can put pressure on the median nerve, contributing to arthritis and carpal tunnel.

* The Solution: Sitting upright, the elbows should be bent at right angles, with the hands parallel to the forearms. Adding ergonomic keyboard trays, and performing isometric hand stretches every 30 minutes or so will help to keep the arms, wrists, and hands in top condition. Hand stretches can be looked up online!

Lower Back

Lower Back Pain
Much like upper back pain, lower back pain is also often caused by slouching. When you slouch, the upper back has to hold all the weight of the upper body on the spine, but the lower back has to anchor the stressed spine to your hips and lower body, creating a lot of pressure. This can cause terrible pain.

* The Solution: Again, stop slouching. Sitting upright will help alleviate some of the pain on the lower back. Although, standing is the most effective way to avoid this pain, because the legs share the weight of the upper body with the lower back, distributing weight more effectively. This is part of why standing desks are ideal. However, mid back seating and ergonomic chairs with lumbar support are powerful pain relievers also. Just make sure the chairs are adjusted properly, and you sit up straight.

Knees and Feet

Knee Pain
Many office employees are often shocked to find they have knee and leg pain after a long day of sitting, and not using their legs - which is exactly the problem. Many office chairs restrict blood flow to the legs, aggrivating joint pain and worsening blood circulation. This can cause feelings of soreness and numbness, and can even contribute to blood clots in people with poor blood health.

* The Solution: Look for ergo chairs that have "waterfall" seats. This means the chair has a gentle slope where the knees hang over the edge, reducing pressure and offering improved blood flow to the extremities. Leg exercises accompanied by brief walking and stretching breaks also help reduce pressure on the knees. In addition, make sure your feet are flat on the ground, so that the chair is not the only thing between your knees and the debilitating effects of gravity. If your chair's height does not adjust, office foot rests are an excellent solution!

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