How to Identify and Fix Poor Ergonomics at Your Workstation
It can be all too easy to forget about ergonomics when we’re working. The effects of poor desk ergonomics can be confused with other causes, such as lack of exercise, working too much, sleeping awkwardly and accidents.
However, there can sometimes be a simple fix if aches and pains are felt whilst working. It may be that adjusting your equipment or investing in the right tools can improve your workstation ergonomics and reduce the risk of injury. Below are the common effects of poor ergonomics and how you can help fix them.
Some ergonomic issues can cause pain in your neck. Your neck may feel stiff or strained when you’re working, and this pain can continue even when you’ve finished work. There can be a few different ergonomic causes for neck pain that can be easily fixed.
Your neck might feel stiff if you have had to hold it in an unnatural position for too long. This can happen when your screen is not in the right place, which means you will have to stretch or hunch over to view it properly. Many people – especially those who work from a laptop – have their screen too low to view it comfortably. It’s important to take as much care with your home office setup as with your workstation in the workplace. So, you should use a laptop stand and/or a monitor stand to raise your screen or screens to the correct height. They should be directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be a couple of centimetres below your eye level. This will stop you from having to strain your neck or hold it in an uncomfortable position to view it comfortably.
Another reason why you might have neck pain is if you frequently use a phone and hold it between your shoulder and ear so you can use your hands at the same time. This can cause a lot of pain and strain in your neck due to holding it in an unnatural position for extended periods of time. Instead, you should look to use a hands-free headset that includes headphones and a microphone. This will allow you to use your hands whilst you speak on the phone. If you don’t have a headset, you should put the phone on speakerphone, so you can still multitask whilst using the phone.
Back pain is one of the most common working from home injuries and it can also occur in the workplace. There are a few different causes of back pain, and most can be solved with simple ergonomic changes to your workstation.
Back pain, and also neck pain, can be caused by poor posture whilst working at a desk. To rectify this, you should ensure your screen is in the correct position, as detailed above. This will prevent you from having to hunch over to see your screen.
Another way to help improve your posture whilst you work and reduce back pain is to use a standing desk converter. This will allow you to switch positions throughout the day, alternating between sitting and standing and preventing you from staying in one position for too long. This can reduce the strain on your back and encourage you to work in a better posture, without slouching. When you’re using a standing desk converter, you should spend around 20 minutes sitting and 10 minutes standing. Our standing desk converter has a pneumatic-assisted adjustment so you can effortlessly switch between sitting and standing in minimal time.
Another reason you might have back pain is that you do not have enough lumbar support in your chair. Ergonomic office chairs will be designed to provide support where it is needed. If you’re working from home, you might be using a dining chair or even a sofa – these will not provide the right support for your back and will not encourage you to sit in the right posture. When you use an ergonomic office chair, you will be able to sit a little way back, so you’re supported by the backrest. You can also alternate sitting in an ergonomic office chair with sitting on a ball chair. Adding a ball chair to your home office furniture will promote movement and improve core strength, which can relieve back pain. However, you should only work on a ball chair for an hour or two at a time, otherwise you could find you work your muscles too much.
Headaches and Migraines
Many people suffer from headaches at work. There can be a few different triggers for headaches and migraines. A common cause is the computer screen. Looking at a computer screen for extended periods of time can be a strain on our eyes, which can lead to headaches and migraines. It could be that the screens are too close to the eyes – in which case, their position should be altered so they are an arm’s length away. Some people are sensitive to light, and digital screens can trigger this sensitivity. You should adjust the brightness of your screen, so it is bright enough to view but not so bright that it causes headaches.
You should also ensure your workstation has adequate lighting. Some people can have migraines triggered by fluorescent lighting, which is commonly used in offices. You should aim to have as much natural light in your office and home office as possible. You should also use desk lamps, so you have more control over how much light is on your own workstation. Ideally, the main source of light should be to the side of the monitor, to reduce any glare from the screen.
If you frequently suffer from headaches and migraines whilst working, you should make sure your eye health is maintained. If you’re overdue for an eye test, take the time to get one scheduled. Using the right prescription lenses can help to prevent these types of headaches and enable you to work more comfortably.
Wrist and Arm Pain
There are different types of wrist pain that will have different triggers. You may suffer from repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis, with stiff, swollen, or painful wrists.
A common cause of wrist pain from working is due to the equipment not being in the right position. You should be able to easily reach your keyboard and mouse with your forearms held in a straight, neutral position and elbows at a 90-degree angle. You can adjust your seat so you’re at the correct height to hold this position, or you can use a keyboard wrist rest and mouse wrist rest to provide added support. Your keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor with your mouse within easy reach to one side. Using wireless equipment will help you to move your equipment and keep it in a position that works for you and your body.
You should also keep your other tools within easy reach. You should stand up to get anything that is too far away to reach easily. Using a desk organiser can help you keep everything you need close by without it cluttering your workstation. You should also utilise letter trays to keep your paperwork tidy and within easy reach, minimising the need to stretch or strain to get anything you need.
To minimise injury while working, you should ensure you take regular breaks. This will reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury, as it will give your muscles a chance to recover and relax. You could even implement some light stretches to help mobilise your muscles and reduce strain and stiffness.
Leg and Ankle Pain
Leg and ankle pain is commonly caused by having an incorrect seating setup. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Ideally, the backs of your knees won’t be against the seat of the chair, as this can interrupt blood flow and cause pain in your feet and ankles. You should also try not to sit with your legs or ankles crossed as this will put pressure on your tendons and will also disrupt healthy blood flow.
If you’re unable to adjust your chair to get your feet on the floor, you should use a foot rest. Our Cosy foot rest can be used as a standard rest or it can be flipped over to use as an ankle rocker, which can help to keep your ankles and legs moving whilst you work. This will encourage healthy blood flow and muscles use, to reduce aches and pains.
Using a standing desk converter will also encourage movement in your legs and ankles, stopping you from staying in one position for too long. You can use a standing desk with an anti-fatigue mat to further reduce the strain on the lower half of your body.
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