Improving Your Ergonomics

By Sophie Marshall

Still working from the dining room table, or are you heading back into the office? How’s your posture after an hour or two?

Bad ergonomics are a pain in the neck/back/bum, so there’s no better time to optimise your workstation ergonomics!

Ergonomics help facilitate better posture. Good ergonomics reduce the kinds of postural stress and fatigue that can often cause neck and back pain, neurogenic (nerve) symptoms, and headaches.

Setup tips for your workstation include:

  • Using an adjustable chair with lumbar support or a lumbar roll
  • Ensuring that your feet are either flat on floor or you are using a foot rest
  • Ensuring that your hips, knees and elbows are at 90 degrees (or in a slight downward slope)
  • Ensuring that your keyboard and mouse are directly in front of you and within easy reach when your arms are resting by your side
  • Ensuring that your keyboard is flat or provides wrist support
  • Ensuring that the computer screen is no further than an arms reach away
  • Ensuring that the top of the computer screen is approximately at eye level
  • Ensuring that documents are directly in front of you and between keyboard and screen, or are in an appropriate holder
  • Ensuring that you do not hold your phone between your head and shoulder

Australian guidelines state that we should minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting positions, and therefore break up long periods of sitting as often as possible. Sedentary behaviour is associated with poorer health outcomes, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

A suggested work pattern is 20 minutes of sitting in a neutral posture, 8 minutes of standing in a neutral posture, and 2 minutes of moving and/or stretching.

Tips to help get you moving:

  • Have reminders/cues to move every 20 minutes
  • Take phone calls while standing
  • Drink plenty of water (toilet breaks and refills!)
  • Eat lunch and morning tea away from your workstation
  • Walk to a colleague’s workstation rather than using email
  • Move the bin and printer away from workstation
  • Make meetings standing or walking ones
  • Consider walking or cycling to work, or parking further away

Having an ergonomic workspace is only half the story; we need sufficient endurance of postural muscles, and extensibility of pectoral muscles to be able to maintain upright posture and scapular retraction.

Your PhysioPro can prescribe stretches and strengthening exercises appropriate for you at your next appointment!

For more information, please contact your local PhysioPro.

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