What is Ergonomics and Why You Should Know

Dr. Hamish MacMillan, Tauranga Chiropractor

Hamish discusses what is ergonomics.

Everyone should know the answer to the question “ What is ergonomics ?” and how ergonomics applies to them and the things they do on a regular basis. Without this knowledge you could affect your health without realising you are doing so. 

Wikipedia describes the study of ergonomics as the “the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, it’s movements and it’s cognitive abilities” and that “ergonomics is employed to fulfill the two goals of health and productivity”. This applies to us all, at home, at work and at play.

The most obvious piece of equipment that most of us use is, of course, the computer. Most of us use a computer at home, indeed some will surf the net for many hours at a time and greater than 90 percent of all office workers use a personal computer. But whether we use it correctly is debatable.  Having your computer monitor, keyboard, chair and workspace organized in a way that promotes productive, pain-free work and discourages repetitive-stress and ergonomic-related injuries is vital in the work place.

The Ideal Office Set Up

What is Ergonomics

An Ergonomic Keyboard

When you are in a seated position and sitting up straight, the position of the keyboard should be at the height of your elbows or below. This prevents having to lift your shoulders continually to use the keyboard. When typing do not rest your wrists on the desk but keep a straight line from your elbow through your hand. A gel wrist support can help with this.

A point to remember is that if you are sharing a chair make sure you adjust the chair to you. This is especially important for children who often sit in adult chairs doing their homework so help them get comfortable too.

An Ergonomic Mouse

Keep in mind that the computer mouse should be at the same height as the keyboard and again don’t bend the wrist.

Ergonomic Monitors

To make sure your monitor is ergonomic the top of your monitor should be at the level of your eyebrows or top of your head. This is not easy with a laptop so if you are going to use one for long periods you might consider getting a seperate keyboard and mouse so you can raise the whole laptop up.

Chair Ergonomics

Chair ergonomics- how not to work!

It is important to remember that good ergonomic posture should be practiced at home while you surf the Internet.

Good chair ergonomics include both your posture and your chair itself.  You should attempt to maintain flat-footed placement on the floor to help with overall balance while sitting. Your objective is to maintain proper posture while sitting by allowing as much contact between your body and the chair. It is important to try to sit back in the chair as far as possible and to maintain contact with your shoulders against the back of the chair. The backs of your thighs and your buttocks should completely contact the base of the chair.

It will also help a great deal if you learn to sit while holding in your lower abdomen for extended periods of time. This helps support the soft tissue of the lower back, which is actually under more strain in a seated position than when you are standing.

If you are in the market to buy a chair then look for these features:

  1. The back of the chair should have a lumbar support which should be adjustable so it fit into your back but doesn’t push you forward. It should move up and down so you can fit the lumbar support into the small of your back. These features are particularly important if the chair is to be shared, especially by children.
  2. The base should swivel and have 5 legs with castors so you can push it back and not twist getting out of it.
  3. The seat should be long enough to support all along your thighs but not cut into the back of your knee. It should have sufficient padding so it is comfortable for long periods. Make sure the seat height is adjustable so all users can maintain good posture.
  4. Armrests are good as they allow the user to rest their elbows and so are less likely to tense their shoulders. Do not rest your forearms on the armrests though.

It may seem like an oversimplification, but by learning to sit up straight, sucking your stomach in and keep your keyboard at the level of your elbows or below are easy ways to minimize your risk of chronic and repetitive stress–related injuries in the workplace. That’s good news to you and your employer.

So what is ergonomics ? It is the way to help keep yourself healthy. Combined, of course, with regular chiropractic care! At Oceanside Family Chiropractic we are passionate about health and healthcare so you can see why we are so interested in what is ergonomics as well as how ergonomically aware you are. If you have any questions about lifting, carrying, using any type of equipment, either in leisure or at work please ask one of us at your next visit and we will be happy to help.

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One Response to What is Ergonomics and Why You Should Know

  1. back braces says:

    Nice post! This is very helpful especially for me since I work for very long hours in front of the personal computer.

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