You’re the Best Ergonomist You Will Ever Find!

Flying Superhero With Clenched Fist

How far from my monitor should I be? Do I need a footrest? Where do I place my mouse? Do I need a keyboard tray? How do I adjust my lumbar support? These and many other “ergonomic” questions are both profound and yet, confound many of us! In truth, in the first instance, these are quite simple questions with one simple answer: “if it feels good and is comfortable, you are probably on the right track!”

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t additions or refinements to your ergo approach which could truly benefit you in the long term. And it does not negate the need for professional ergonomic intervention for issues that remain consternating. The main message here is to be proactive and recognize that you have both inherent “ergo knowledge” and a variety of options!

While we as ergonomists can provide information, education, recommendations and guidelines regarding your particular situation, it is important to remember that it is “your particular situation!”

For example, it is normally recommended that you place your monitor about an arm’s length away from you with your eyes level with the top one-third of the screen. And while these are good general guidelines, they don’t necessarily complete your picture. What if you are one of those folks who, if they sit an arm’s length from the monitor, get headaches? What if you are a bi-focal wearer? What if you have strong or dim overhead lighting? For issues like these there are both “quick fixes” as well as professional options if the issues linger.

Let’s take the first example of headaches or sensitivity caused by sitting too close to the monitor. If sitting arm’s length from the monitor gives you a headache, but sitting farther away stifles your ability to read the text on the screen……..?!?! The quick fix (and maybe the only fix you will need!) can be to enlarge the default font size so that you do not need to sit closer to read the text! If this solves your problem, great! If the issue lingers, you might need to have your eyes checked, or the lighting in your work area evaluated or you might need a larger monitor.

It seems so intuitive that if my lower back (lumbar area) is bothering me from sitting all day, that I might need to check both my posture and my lumbar support in order to help alleviate discomfort (and of course exercise, stretching, proper rest etc. are key elements here as well). But how many of you truly know how to adjust your chairs in order to promote proper posture and adequate lumbar support?

Before asking for another chair, check your posture and support. Are your feet able to be on the ground while you are sitting? Are you sitting on your “sit” bones (ischial tuberosity) in an upright, supported manner or are you slouching in your chair?

Maybe a rolled up towel or small pillow or cushion behind your back on the seat pan will provide you with the support you need. Maybe you should learn how to adjust the bar on the back of your chair that is intended for supporting the lumbar area?

If these fixes do not alleviate your issues, then of course, it may be time to have some professional intervention to determine if you need a new chair or what have you!

I guess what I am saying here is the following: Don’t just sit down (wherever you are) and just start working. Check in with yourself and take stock of the ergo situation and how you are feeling. Don’t ignore signs of discomfort, but don’t feel like you have to wait for someone to tell you to improve your posture or change your font size before you make the move to do it!

You are the best ergonomist you will ever have and your level of awareness is the first step in the process of making you feel comfortable and productive at work!

Information and help is out there! Please seek it out!

As always, please share your experiences in the comments section!

 

Until the next time!

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 7.16.15 AMAndrew Blumenfeld, M.A., PBE Co-Founder

For more information check out our website: www.pbergo.com for onsite & online solutions.


 

1Comment
  • Rob Fontaine
    Posted at 08:36h, 07 February Reply

    Excellent, practical advice. I often attend an office workstation and find the worker has been unwilling to make any adjustments themselves because the last time they moved, the ergonomist adjusted it properly and they don’t want to screw it up! I often contrast the disinterest in workstation set-up to driving position when we rent a car. We would never consider driving away in a rental vehicle without making all the necessary seat, steering wheel and mirror adjustments. However, many of us drop into an ergonomic task chair and start our login procedures without a thought to the workstation set-up and how it can affect our wellbeing. I suspect with all the news around “sitting is killing us” we will start to see more people become interested in their sitting habits.

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