As a mobility enthusiast, I’m a firm believer that prevention is better than cure. In this article, I want to show you some useful ergonomics tips to keep your spine and body in good shape while you’re doing your bread and butter.
First, let’s take a look at how poor ergonomics is risking your back health.
Poor Ergonomics and Back Pain
Back pain and neck pain are known symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), a condition suffered by many workers all over the world because of poor ergonomics. In fact, in the United States alone, almost one-third of work-related injuries are associated with MSD. As statistics never lie, it proves how costly and dangerous a poorly designed workplace is to employees and employers alike.
Early signs of poor ergonomics at work:
Over time, the spine will suffer these harmful habits at work. As the back agonizes, the overall health becomes affected. To prevent the worst, here are some easy ergonomics tips I’ve compiled:
1. Customize your workstation. When it comes to ergonomics, the head and neck position plays a significant role. Looking for the culprit? Blame it on the wrongly placed monitor that prompts you to bend your upper body just so you can do your work. However, most workstations are not engineered for spinal comfort. It’s now up to you to do the intervention as conducive as you can. Always remember to:
. Stay active by taking frequent walks. Sitting for a prolonged time is now considered as dangerous as smoking. According to Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic, the chair is here to kill us. Aside from back pain, it’s also linked to risks of obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, cancer, as well as cardiac disease. Luckily, staying active at home and at work effectively counters this threat:
2. Avoid crossing your legs. If you have a habit of crossing your legs, think twice before you do it again. In chiropractic, crossing legs is a no go since it causes bad posture. Typically, you tend to slouch more when your legs are crossed. Over time, it can even cause your spine to misalign, aside from the risk of your pelvis to tilt and rotate.
3. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Instead of crossing your legs, better rest your feet flat on the floor. Do this by adjusting the height of your office chair until you reach the appropriate level. In case no footrest is available, make use of handy, small yet heavy materials such as a stool.
4. Put your phone on speaker. Or, use a headset in case you accept frequent calls. Do not cradle your phone between your head and neck. Cradling your phone is doing you more harm than good as this causes strain on your upper spine. It may also cause you a sore and stiff neck.
5. Occupy the whole chair. Some people have a habit of sitting on the edge of the chair. This brings unnecessary strain to your body, particularly your spine. As a rule, occupy the whole chair with your lower back fully touching the backrest.
6. Be mindful of your back and neck pain. No matter how busy you are, make sure to invest some time to check on your health. Start by recognizing the symptoms of back pain at work. Change your position once you start feeling stiff or sore.
7. Sit Straight. On top of ergonomic tools and lumbar supports, the ultimate asset you have to get a healthy back is your will to stand straight. Sure, you may find it challenging when you’re dealing with back pain or if you’re used to slouching all the time. However, the discipline and effort you give into sitting straight will reap its benefits- a good posture and a healthy spine.
As you improve your workspace ergonomics, you also enhance your capacity and efficiency to work. Remember that a healthy back is one of your most significant assets to become a productive and successful worker. It doesn’t matter where you are. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Don’t even rely on pain killers or suffer in silence. If your work-related chronic pain is making you more and more uncomfortable, see a doctor right away, and seek immediate professional advice.