Proper Ergonomics for Managing Pain Symptoms

It has been reported that more than half of workplace injuries are related to cumulative trauma disorders caused by repeated motions and activities that inevitably lead to increased discomfort, pain, and physical impairment.  Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the work environment.  Many understand and associate ergonomics with the science of refining the design of products to optimize them for human use, evaluating characteristics such as height, weight, and measurable proportions as well as inputs evaluating human hearing, sight, temperature and many more.

Common ergonomic ailments include: carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, lower back problems, shoulder problems, and a variety of other cumulative trauma disorders that trigger vision impairment with eyestrain and headaches.

Ergonomics can aid you in preventing behaviors that lead to some types of chronic pain – neck, back, and lower back are most common.  If you make a mindful attempt to apply good ergonomics to your daily life, you may discover new ways to mitigate the pain you experience on a daily basis.

Here are a few tips and considerations that can be applied to customize your work environment and reduce the onset of pain:

Chair Selection and Position

Select a chair that offers support to the curves of your spine.  When you are in a seated position, you will want your feet to rest flat on the ground, or on a footrest at a 90 degree angle.  It is important to make sure that the chair is placed in a comfortable position where the keyboard height can create a 90 degree bend in the elbow for proper typing at your workstation.  To prevent eye strain, neck soreness, and shoulder discomfort, put your chair in a position where the computer monitor is no further than arm’s length away.

The Power of Proper Posture

Being mindful of sitting correctly will improve your comfort level throughout the day and over time.  When your workstation is setup properly, you will be able to relax in a seated position – always avoid sitting in a position where your neck and shoulders are tensed and folding towards your ears.  The quickest way to check for proper posture is to make sure that your ears, shoulders, and hips are always aligned with your entire back touching the pack of your cushioned chair.

Take Breaks, You Earn Them

To practice positive healthy habits in the workplace, take frequent breaks where you stand up to stretch your arms; get out of your seat to twist your upper body from side to side; walk to the water cooler for a quick drink; walk up and down a flight of stairs.  Making a few of these simple changes to your work routine each day will help you prevent the onset of neck or back pain.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice and support.  If this service is not covered by your company, it may be useful to make a tiny investment to make sure that you can stay healthy and performing well in the workplace.  If money is tight, consider asking your employer if they can pay for an ergonomics consultant to visit the office for a few hours and help the office stay healthy and happy at work.

To Learn More
Mayo Clinic
Spine Health