I’m not sure if “ergonomics” was even a word 20 years ago. But today, one cannot work a desk job without knowing about it. We have all seen the picture of someone hunched over at their desk, elbows tucked in typing at a keyboard. It’s not hard to look at this understand how bad it is for the body to spend hours in this position.
Traditional Ergonomics: By the Numbers
- Seat height: Knees should be bent 90°.
- Seat back angle: Hips should be at 90° with your back straight and lumbar curve supported.
- Elbows: Should be supported and resting at 90° and your computer screen at eye level.
- I have found that for my patients, any position, when maintained for too long, will result in fatigue and eventually pain.
- Few individuals ever maintain good ergonomic posture for very long. Even with the optimal adjustments and equipment, most will find a way to slouch at their desk.
- If you sit in a chair and your back and your shoulders blades are not touching the chair, essentially, you’re sitting on a stool. No amount of lumbar support is going to make your back feel better if you’re not using it.
A New Approach
- Human beings, as a species, are built for movement. It used to be that if you needed something, you built it. If you wanted to get someplace, you walked. If you wanted food, you grew it or caught it. It is not until the last hundred years that our work has become hours and hours of sit in one place, do one thing.
- With this in mind, my approach to ergonomics is a much more dynamic one. I believe that an individual should have as much flexibility as possible when it comes to their workstation.
- Use an adjustable desks that allows you to sit or stand — or anything in between.
- Combine an adjustable seat and either a wireless keyboard or a keyboard with a long cord, and you can work from multiple positions throughout the day.
- Use support your chair can give your back: Sit with your tush all the way to the back of the chair, with your shoulder blades touching the seat back.
- Avoid maintaining one position for an extended period of time. Get up and move every 30 minutes.
With a little thought and creativity you should be able to work with these basics to create something that is most beneficial to you.