3 Sure Signs That You Need an Ergo Tune Up


My daughter recently started an internship at a prestigious research center which requires long hours at the computer.  Now, I know she is excited about this position, because she was a go getter, made it happen and I was the one who jumped up and down with her when she got the offer!

But I when I asked her recently how it was going, she shrugged her shoulders and said “Ok, I guess.”  Surprised to hear that, I probed her a bit more and she said, she’d really like the job more, but her back is killing her from her chair at work.   She went on for the next few minutes describing the way her chair back pushed her forward, felt awkward and made work difficult.

And that got me thinking. . .

How many of us are in jobs we would like a whole lot more if we were physically comfortable?  And what would that do to our productivity?   I am convinced that  too many of us accept workstations that are not ergo friendly, yet easy to fix.   But most of us are unaware of what to be on the lookout for and just learn to live with discomforts (specific or vague) that diminish the quality of our days.  And it’s time to change that!  You deserve better.

Take a look at the most common complaints associated with work areas that are not as ergo friendly as they should and could be.

Sign #1: Neck and Shoulder Tightness

Neck and shoulder discomfort is the number one complaint that we hear in the ergo trenches, yet it is the most dismissed and accepted complaint out there.

“I carry my stress in my shoulders.”

“It must be how I’m sleeping.”

“It’s just how it is.  Doesn’t everybody have stress in their neck?”

The short answer is NO!  If you have tension, tightness or out and out pain in your neck, check your workstation and work-style for these common culprits.

  1. You work on a laptop without a laptop riser or a plug in keyboard and mouse which makes you slouch, crouch and jut your head forward in order to see the screen.
  2. Your monitor(s) is not aligned with your keyboard causing you to turn your head to the right or the left.
  3. You reach your arms forward to type and use your mouse, causing your to round your shoulders and upper back.

Sign #2: Back Pain

Did you know that a staggering 31 million americans are suffering from back pain at any one time?  Think about that for a moment.  And while there are many causes of back pain, when it comes to your work set up, here the most common ones.

  1. Sitting in a chair that doesn’t fit properly.  This can mean that the chair is too high (or low), that the back of your chair doesn’t provide good lumbar support or that the seat pan is too short or long.
  2. Your chair fits fine, but you defeat your chair with funky postures such as slouching, low riding in your chair, sitting on one foot, crossing your legs, leaning to the left, leaning to the right or leaning your chin in your hand which rounds your back.
  3. Any of the culprits in the previous list related to neck and shoulder pain apply.

Sign #3: Wrist Soreness

  1. You type or mouse with your wrists bent back.   This can come about by resting your wrists on your desk top, having your keyboard placed too low (or too far), by having your keyboard at a positive tilt, or working with a mouse that is too large for your hand.
  2. You twist your wrist from side to side when mousing.  You twist your wrist from side to side when you type, especially when you strike any of the outlier keys on your keyboard such as the enter, shift, backspace, delete or strike multiple keys for key commands such as CTRL + C
  3. You type with too much force.
Easy Quick Fixes  (And links to helpful blog posts)
  • Chair:  Adjust your chair so that your feet are firmly on the floor (or footrest if needed), your back is supported, arm rests if used are not causing your shoulders to hunch.
  • Your Posture:  When working at your desk, the best posture to strive for is an upright balanced posture.  The best way to achieve that is to sit with a neutral pelvis (on your sits bones) and strive to have your ears line up over your shoulders, your shoulders over your elbows, your elbows over your hips and if you stand while your work, have your hips align over your knees and your knees over your ankles.
  • Your Wrists: This is one is straight forward.  When you type, mouse or text, keep your wrists as neutral as possible.  This does not mean to hold them stiffly, but rather, place your equipment so that your wrists don’t bend back or to the side.  When you type and mouse, don’t make all your movements at your wrist, but rather, incorporate your arms as well to move behind your hand so that your poor wrists don’t have to do all of the work!
Now it’s YOUR turn!

Look around your workstation.  What’s working?  What’s not working?  And how can you fix it?  Don’t know?  Jump into the comments and we can help you!

Until the next time!





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