Do you ever feel like working a 9-5 desk job is slowly killing your neck and back? Most people tend to take a few painkillers and avoid treating the root cause of the pain. However, physical pain caused due to sitting for prolonged hours at a desk, and staring at a screen is a big concern and will have major lifelong consequences. If not prevented, the pain gets worse over time and may even lead to medication, physiotherapy, or worse, surgery. Thankfully, there are very easy steps that you can take to prevent this. The answer is ergonomics.
Why should you care about ergonomics?
Human beings spend 8-10 hours per day and at least 30 percent of their entire life at work. Most jobs require employees to spend a large amount of time sitting in one place. When you spend so much time in a fixed posture at your desk with little movement, there is a great possibility that it may cause you to develop chronic pain in numerous parts of your body, like your back, neck, and wrists. If left untreated the pain can manifest into a musculoskeletal disorder such as carpal tunnel syndrome and kyphosis. In recent years, the need for treatment has increased and it is usually very expensive to treat musculoskeletal disorders because recovery takes time.
This is where ergonomics comes in. In simple terms, Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. It is a scientific method devised to prevent such issues. Prevention is better than cure and good ergonomic design removes incompatibilities between the work and the worker and creates the optimal work environment.
If you are working a 9-5 job, here is what you might be experiencing and what its effects will be in the long run :
- Poor posture
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Eye strain
- Lack of physical activity can also cause weight gain and loss of stamina.
- Breathing problems due to curved spine.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: It causes tingling, numbness, and pain in your hands, and recovery can take a long time.
Poor ergonomics not only affects your physical health but adversely disturbs your mental health as well. Anything that is causing you physical distress, will also cause you mental stress. Both go hand in hand.
What can you do about it?
The use of computers and rapidly changing technology in the modern workplace has greatly increased the need for ergonomics. Desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, and lighting all need to be assessed when creating a workspace, whether it is at the office or at home.
The first thing you need to do is to analyze your workspace.
- Adjust the height so that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Make sure there is appropriate lumbar support.
- Your feet should be firmly sitting flat on the ground and not hanging mid-air.
- Remember to sit up straight and don’t slouch. To prevent this, make sure your back is pressed against the chair so you don’t hunch forward.
Desk, keyboard, and mouse:
- The top of your monitor should be at eye level.
- The mouse should be placed in line with the elbows so that there is no bending of the wrists.
For a more comprehensive guide, here’s a video tutorial: How to set up your workspace
Lastly, make sure you take breaks between work.
- Get up, stretch and take a quick walk every hour.
- To clear your mind, do some quick yoga and meditation.