4 Quick Ways to Adjust ANY Workstation for Better Ergonomics.

A properly set up work station is conducive to less back pain, neck pain, hand tingling/numbness, headaches, and back/spine problems.

You may not experience any issues from your workstation yet, but it is just a matter of time before your rounded shoulders, tucked pelvis or forward head posture start to have an effect on your well being.  It’s important to make some changes now before an issue arises!

Do you  need a fancy standing workstation?  Do you need state of the art adjustable chairs?  Do you need fancy gadgets for your computer?  Not so much!

All you need to know for sitting better throughout the day is a few fundamentals about good posture and ergonomics, and from there setting up your desk is easy!

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Here are the top 4 adjustments you could make right now, at this very moment, to improve your posture and work station:

  1. Start with your pelvis.  I think this is the most important part of the body to align correctly at first.  To align your pelvis correctly you need to have your feet flat on the floor (I’ve propped mine up because my chair and desk are too high- you should too!).  From there  it’s important to have a 90-100 degree angle in the knee joint, and as you can see my thighs are almost parallel to the floor, forming a 90 degree angle at the knee joint.  This also means finding the right chair/ball height to create this angle.

Once that is set up it’s time to set up your pelvis!  Imagine your pelvis as a bowl of water that you want to sit neutrally so that you do not spill water out of the back or front!  To find neutral you could rock your hips all the way forward, then all the way back, and find the half way point.  Basically what we are looking for is a very small arch in the lower back, such that your tail bone shouldn’t be tucked underneath your body.  I have a few photos to demonstrate this concept below.  Please note that this chair has a sloping seat, making it very difficult to sit with a good pelvis which is why I am demonstrating these positions from the top of the chair.

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This is a neutral pelvis.  You can see based on my waist band that if this was a bowl of water I wouldn’t be spilling water out the back or the front!  My shoulders are stacked over my hips and abs are slightly engaged.   

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This is an anterior tilted pelvis, and I would be spilling water out of the front of my pelvis if my pelvis were a bowl!  This position puts a lot of strain on the lower back.  You can also see my shoulders forward of my hips- a NO GO for good posture.

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Here is a posterior pelvic tilt, and the water from my pelvic bowl would be spilling right out the back.  As you can see my lower back is in much too curved of a position and I am “tucking under” with my pelvis.  This position is also not a healthy position for sitting all day.  This is the way I see people sitting most commonly.  People tend to sit at the back of their chair and tuck their pelvis under like this.  Quick- take a look- is your pelvis tilted posteriorly right now??

 

  1.    Get the elbows propped up.  If you have arm rests and wrists rests on your chair, perfect!  Arm rests that allow your elbows to hold themselves at 90 degrees, and wrist rests that prop your wrists up enough to type comfortably are perfect ways to keep relaxed, yet in good alignment with the upper body.   Ensure that your elbows stay right by your sides so that you aren’t carrying tension in your neck and traps all day. In the photo above you can see I have used the desk as a way to prop my elbow and wrists up, and moved my chair closer to make this work.  If I was working more than a few hours a day at my desk I would invest in a better more supportive chair with arm rests.

3.   Align your Monitor Height.  One of the most damaging aspects of having a lap top is how much time I normally spend looking down at the screen.  Recently I purchased a wireless keyboard and mouse.  This has allowed my to prop my laptop up nice and high, at eye level.  This allows me to keep my neck in a nice straight line rather than drooping down to stair at the screen.  Forward head posture can be very damaging to the nervous system and cardiovascular system.  If you do one thing today get your monitor at eye level and stop yourself from looking down at the screen all day.  Even a monitor that is slightly too low can be very damaging to the neck when you use it all day!  Use whatever you have around, like I’ve done, to get the eye level height of the monitor.

4.  Hold your good posture.

Good seated posture means :

  1.  Reaching the roof of your head to the ceiling (like a puppet).
  2. Opening up your collarbones (broadening your chest).
  3. Drawing your shoulder blades down and back together.
  4. Slightly engaging your abs (So that your ribs aren’t flaring out).

** Remember- even the best ergonomically set up workstation goes to waste if you are using it with poor posture!  Set up your station, and align your body for best results.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope this helped you.  As a reminder, this isn’t an extensive exploration of ergonomics and posture, just a few tips to get you started.  If you are interested in booking a private ergonomics or posture assessment, or a company lunch and learn on this topic please e-mail katherine@optimal-health-coaching.com for more information!

 

 

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