In today’s technology-based world, many of us do our jobs at a desk, in front of a poorly lit computer. While office jobs have their advantages, they also come with certain discomforts.
One of these discomforts is the undeniable pain you feel in your back after sitting for hours at your desk with a poor posture. Back pain is no joke. It can make it difficult for you to work or enjoy life outside office hours.
While the cost of back pain is great, the solution is simple. Ergonomics! Applying ergonomic solutions to your workplace can help you perform your job without experiencing physical pain at the end of the day.
Today, we will take a closer look at the role of ergonomics in the office and the ergonomic strategies you can use to reduce back pain.
You might have heard a lot about ergonomics in recent years. However, ergonomics is not a passing trend. It’s the science of designing workplaces that fit the needs of employees.
By rearranging furniture, employing better tools, and promoting better postures, ergonomics aims to improve employee safety and comfort while preventing injuries. When applied correctly, ergonomic solutions can reduce strain on the body and help you avoid work-related back pain.
What does poor ergonomics mean? Anything from improper postures to non-standard workstation setups, wrong chair heights, poor lighting, and inadequate breaks qualifies as poor ergonomics.
These factors can put stress on your back, leading to unbearable pain and even long-term spinal injury.
The cost of back pain goes beyond physical discomfort. On a personal level, it can reduce your mobility, disrupt your sleep, and even impact your mental health.
On a professional level, back pain can decrease productivity, increase healthcare expenses, and lead to absenteeism. It can also cost employers billions of dollars every year in comp claims.
So, prioritizing workplace ergonomics is not an option. If you want to prevent back pain, it’s a must!
There are ergonomic solutions you can implement to prevent back pain while sitting. Here are some of the most effective ones.
If there is only one thing you want to invest in to protect your back, it should be a proper office chair. An ergonomic chair is a must-have for those who spend long hours behind a desk.
Choose a chair that allows you to adjust the seat height, back angle, and armrests. These features are worthy investments as they provide you with maximum comfort.
When choosing a chair, opt for one with built-in lumbar support. Alternatively, you can add a pillow or a cushion to your chair to support your back.
The added padding will help keep the curve of your spine to reduce strain on your back. It will also help you sit straight and avoid slouching to maintain proper posture.
If your work involves prolonged computer use, you must have a comfortable place to rest your arms. Chairs with adjustable armrests are ideal for office workers since you can adjust them to fit your arm’s length.
When typing on your computer, change the arm supports so your elbows rest at a 90-degree angle. This angle will reduce strain on your wrists, shoulders, neck, and upper back.
When sitting in front of your computer, your feet should be on the floor, and your knees should be at a level below your hips.
You can use a separate footrest if your office chair and desk don’t provide this alignment. A footrest can improve your posture, prevent leg cramps, and reduce pressure on your lower back. Get one that is adjustable and easy to maintain.
Your chair and desk height should allow your arms to rest at 90 degrees while working on your computer. Keeping your arms parallel to the ground when typing or using a mouse will reduce strain on your wrists and upper back.
The height of your desk should also provide you with enough leg and elbow room to let you move comfortably. You can also use a standing desk for an adjustable height.
Ergonomic desks and workstations must be adjustable to fit the physical needs of each employee. One such option that is gaining increasing popularity is sit-stand desks.
These desks let you alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday to prevent fatigue and reduce strain on your back. An adjustable desk with easy transition can even increase productivity and make the day more fun.
Keeping your desk organized can reduce back pain by giving you easy access to all the necessary items. Putting your laptop, notebooks, papers, and pens at a reachable distance will reduce unnecessary stretching movements that will put strain on your back.
For better organization, you can choose desks with built-in shelves and drawers. You can also use desk organizers and accessories to keep your workspace tidy.
Where you place your monitor is also vital for reducing neck and back pain. The screen should be at your eye level so you can look at your computer comfortably without bending your neck or slouching.
You can use monitor arms to adjust the height of your screen. These helpful tools allow you to customize screen placement based on your height and work in a better posture.
Lighting might not seem like a factor leading to back pain. However, poor lighting or glare from screens can force you into awkward positions for a better look at your monitor and reduced eye strain.
The best solution is to adjust ambient lighting and create a visual-friendly workstation. You can put indirect lighting behind your monitor or above your desk to optimize lighting in your workspace.
Ergonomic keyboards and mice can reduce wrist strain and prevent repetitive strain injuries while promoting a more natural hand position and encouraging better posture, all of which minimize discomfort in the back.
You can use split keyboards and vertical mice to keep your hands and wrists in a natural position and enjoy a more comfortable typing experience.
Let’s recap and see what a good and bad example of a workstation setup for reduced back pain looks like.
- An ergonomic chair with
- Lumbar support
- Adjustable height and back angle
- An organized desk with
- Proper lighting
- Adjustable height
- A place for footrest
- Monitor placed at eye level
- Ergonomic mouse and keyboard
- An uncomfortable chair without
- Height adjustability
- A place to rest the arms
- Padding or cushions for back support
- A cluttered desk with
- Poor lighting
- Inadequate leg room
- Non-ergonomic mouse and keyboard
- Poorly placed monitor with screen glare
Ensure your setup meets all the criteria for an ergonomic workstation to protect your back from unnecessary strain and injury.
While an ergonomic workstation setup is crucial for helping you avoid back pain, it’s not the only factor to consider. Adopting better habits throughout your workday is also necessary to reduce strain on your back.
Here are some simple habits you can incorporate into your routine today.
While stability is needed for maintaining proper posture, sitting or standing in one position for too long can hurt your muscles. So, it’s best to find a balance between movement and stability.
Incorporating movement into your workday can include using a sit-stand desk or performing simple exercises and stretches to improve blood circulation.
Working non-stop will not only put pressure on your mind. It will also stiffen your muscles and lead to back pain.
Try to take a short break every 30-45 minutes. On your break, get up and do some stretches, walk around the office, and let your body reset. These small movements will prevent fatigue, sharpen your mind, and relieve neck and back tension.
Finally, you must keep your whole body healthy and hydrated to protect your back. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent muscle cramps and stiffness. Switch to a balanced diet to supply your body with nutritious foods and vitamins.
Use the tips we gave you today to create an ergonomic, back-friendly workstation for yourself. Making a few adjustments to your workplace can create a safe environment that allows you to do your job comfortably.
Don’t hesitate to invest in quality office furniture. This investment will pay off in the long run by lowering healthcare costs and making you more productive. Start protecting your back today to perform at your best!