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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ergonomically Correct Office Space

By  Dr. Jon Thomas D.C PSc.D, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician.

How to Maximize Comfort and Productivity

Ergonomics is the study of people's efficiency in working environments. A workspace that takes ergonomics into consideration can make a big difference to your health and posture, especially if you’re sitting down for a significant part of the day. Your office workspace should be spine-friendly. Here are some of the ways you can boost comfort and productivity.
Courtesy of Wikimedia

Start with a good chair

When purchasing a chair for your office, take everything into consideration. This includes its surface, upper and lower back support, how it adjusts, and more. Don’t scrimp on your office chair. You’ll be spending some serious time together. Here are some of the main things to think about.

Surface: Vinyl requires little care. It’s also easy to keep leather clean. Full grain leather is the best, top grain is good, and split grain is the least expensive. A seat with cloth will will prevent the accumulation of sweat, since it is breathable. Mesh is the best for air circulation, but it may not be the best choice for support for some people.

Cushioning: Make sure the padding is thick enough so it won’t bottom out. Buying a high quality chair will pay off in durability for the cushioning.

Back Support: The chair should provide comfortable support for both your lower and upper back. Many chairs can be adjusted for lower back support.  If this area can be customized with adjustments, it may help you to get maximum comfort.

Fit: The height of a quality office chair can easily be adjusted. Make sure the chair can be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor when your knees are bent at about ninety degrees. If you’re looking at chairs with fixed armrests, make sure they are comfortable and that they will allow you to get as close to your desk as needed for your work. Most chairs come with adjustable armrests that can be adjusted up and down to a level you’re comfortable with. Armrests usually cannot be moved from side to side. For that reason, it’s important to get a chair that is the correct width. When you go to an office furniture showroom, sit in the chairs the same way you would in your office. Roll chairs up to a desk to get a sense of how they would feel in an office.

Adjustments: You want to be aware of all the adjustments that can be made so you can be as comfortable as possible in your workspace. Have the salesperson show you everything. Depending on the chair, items that can be adjusted may include the back tilt, the seat tilt, extensions for support of the thighs, and the back height.
If you work in an office where your chair is provided by your employer, you may have to make do with what you’re given. Nevertheless, take a good look at the chair and make sure you’re aware of all the ways it can be adjusted so you can get the most out of it. Also, consider adding a nice personal chair cushion and/or a lumbar support attachment. Neither of those items cost very much and they could make your office chair much more comfortable.

Keyboard, monitor, and mouse

Desktop computers are generally more comfortable to work with than laptops. The basic sitting position in an office space should have your elbows and knees bent at about 90 degrees. The computer mouse should be within comfortable reach of the keyboard. The monitor should be at eye level between 20 and 30 inches from your face. The monitor should be tilted slightly at about 10 to 20 degrees.

Some people stick with the basic keyboard and mouse that comes with a computer until those components wear out. A mouse and keyboard is one of the most inexpensive ways to ergonomically improve a workspace. Some people find a wireless mouse easier to work with than one that has a cable. Also, a wireless keyboard with an ergonomic shape will be an enormous improvement over any straight keyboard your computer may have come with. (If you use a laptop, consider buying an external mouse and keyboard. Your spine will thank you.)

Keyboard

Courtesy of Wikimedia
An ergonomic keyboard is curved and raised in the center. It takes some getting used to. It will keep the wrists straight when the elbows are at the user’s side.  If you don’t spend much time entering numbers, you might consider getting a keyboard without a numeric keypad. This will enable you to keep the mouse closer to the area where you’re typing.
Adjust your keyboard so the home keys are right in front of you. They should be close and low enough so your forearms stay straight. A keyboard drawer or tray may be needed to get things aligned correctly. 

Mouse

There are lots of variables with computer mice. Some people like mice with trackballs. Others prefer an optical mouse. Mice come in different shapes and sizes. They’re not very expensive, so get one that you are comfortable with.
A computer mouse has settings that can be changed. If you’re left handed, you can change the button functions to make your mouse left-handed. You can adjust the speed to reduce the distance you need to move the mouse.

Monitor

For people who spend much of their workday looking at computer screens, eye strain is a serious issue. High quality monitors are worth the cost because they will help to minimize eye strain. If you look at a computer screen for a large portion of your workday, it shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience. Some experts say a monitor should be just above eye level. Others say it should be slightly below eye level and tilted slightly away. It may take some experimentation in your workspace to determine what the best setup is for you. If you’re having any problems with eye strain, it’s also a good idea to adjust some of your monitor settings to see what setting will help to minimize any eye strain issues.

Do You Have Computer Neck Syndrome?


If you spend the majority of your day in front of a computer, you could wind up with a case of Computer Neck Syndrome.  This malaise is caused by long periods of staring at a computer screen.  Over time, the weight of your head will slowly begin to adversely affect the curvature of your spine, resulting in neck ache, back ache and headaches. (An offshoot of this syndrome is called text neck, which is caused by people hunching over their smartphones to send text messages.) 


Both these problems are caused by forward head position (FHP), which leads to an unnatural straightening of the cervical spine. This causes improper loading of the spine that over time will lead to degenerative changes, including pinched nerves.  While chiropractic treatment and exercise can repair the damage, the best way to thwart FHP is to change the angle at which you view your computer or smartphone.

While it seems that there are a myriad of variables to consider when it comes to maximizing comfort and productivity in the workplace, making the right choices in the short term will more than pay for themselves over the long haul.

In this article, I have explained some of the key factors to creating an office workspace that is ergonomic. This article discusses the chair, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It also discusses how to avoid eye strain and Computer Neck Syndrome.

At Vibrant Life, we address all of the key elements to add vibrance and vitality to your life. The rest of your days can be the best of your days! Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Have you been “just dealing with it?” It’s time to come to the experts at Vibrant Life Health Center.

If you found this article useful, or are inspired to make a change, please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. Take the time to visit our testimonials page on our website and don’t forget we are a full service chiropractic office that is here to help you deal with pain as well. If you have a comment you would like to express about this article, please leave it in the comment section of this blog.

Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician, his interest in health started at an early age resulting from an athletic life, including BMX racing, Professional Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Baseball, Weight Lifting, and Martial Arts. After learning from top health experts in the world, Dr. Thomas’s life is dedicated to reaching people of all ages to begin their life transformation. The goal is to start the body healing resulting in a body that is functioning at its optimal.  In addition to serving his community in his Mandarin Based Practice, Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV’s First Coast Living talking about his patient’s transformations, speaking at events throughout the community, and writing articles to re-shape the health of the Jacksonville Community.

4 comments:

  1. Good information about making about making a workspace more comfortable. Sitting in a lousy chair and working in a space that's nor set up very well can really take a toll on the body.

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  2. The two best decisions I made at the office was to raise my monitors and find a way to stand up at my desk when I compute.

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  3. This is especially helpful for those who spend long hours sitting and doing repetitive work (which is most people). Like the old saying goes, take care of your body, and your body will take care of you!

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  4. These tips are crucial for those of us who work in front of a computer! Thanks.

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