We’ve put together some useful tips and tricks on creating an ergonomic workspace to alleviate pain and discomfort whilst maintaining work productivity.
Upper limb disorder/discomfort
Upper limb disorders (ULDs) include aches and pains in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, as well as in the neck. These may be caused or made worse by using a computer.
ULDs are more common in work that involves:
- Prolonged, repetitive work particularly using the same hand or arm action.
- Uncomfortable or awkward working positions.
- Sustained or excessive force.
- Carrying out a task for a long time without suitable breaks.
- Working with hand-held power tools for long periods of time.
Other influences may be:
- A poor working environment.
- Poor work organisation.
- Individual differences and vulnerability.
Workers may have symptoms in their upper limbs such as:
- Aches and pains, tenderness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp, burning, redness and swelling.
- Stiffness, pain or reduced movement in their joints.
Creating an ergonomic workspace is highly effective at alleviating discomfort. Below is a variety of quick stretches you can perform to prevent discomfort at your desk:
- Neck glides – sit or stand up straight, glide head back as far as it will go, keeping head and ears level, then glide head forward. Repeat 3 times.
- Shoulder shrugs – sit or stand up straight, circle shoulders backwards 3 times with arms relaxed by your side.
- Upper Back Stretches – cross arms and raise hands to rest on the front of the shoulders, using your arms push shoulders back and keep elbows down. Hold for 15 seconds, repeat 3 times.
- Forearm Stretches – sit or stand up straight, extend one arm in front, elbow straight and hand flexed. Stretch forearm muscles by placing the palm of the other hand across the front of the first hand and push towards the body.
- Forward presses – gently interlock your fingers, press your palms away from your body, gently stretching the forearm muscles, fingers and the muscles between your shoulder blades. Hold for five seconds.
Poor posture can result in chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and injuries all of which impact long-term health and productivity. To reduce those risks and enhance wellbeing, it’s important to implement healthy habits that will improve your posture.
Tips for improving posture:
Practice neutral posture
This is the spine’s natural alignment position. This can be achieved by keeping your computer monitor at eye level, keep your back flat against your chair, rest feet flat on the ground or even use a lumbar support tool.
Regular movement every 20-25 minutes increases blood and nutrient flow and also loosens up your body so prevents stiffness. A brisk walk around the room can help boost circulation and energy.
There are excellent supports available on the market to encourage neutral posture and promote better ergonomic habits. A good office chair can be one of the best ergonomic aids to relieve discomfort and prevent injury. Other aids include sit-stand desks, office footrests, monitor arms, and keyboard trays.
Seating is highly important in creating an ergonomic workspace. If you don’t have space for an ergonomic chair, you could make some comfortable adjustments to your current chair. For example sitting wedges to angle your pelvis forward slightly for a better posture, or better yet, a back-friend to make it a little bit more supportive. If you are able purchase a new chair, there are thousands of Ergonomic or task chairs on the market to choose from in a range of prices.
Chairs should be adjustable, comfortable, sturdy, sourced from a reputable supplier, and come with at least a 5 year guarantee. If your chair can be adjusted, make sure you take time to adjust the chair appropriately. The chair arms should be adjusted or removed if they’re preventing the user from getting into the ideal seating position.
Once the chair height is set to the optimum position, check to see if a footrest is needed. Once set, the chair and the height of the backrest should not be adjusted as these are based on the person’s height, which won’t alter.
Hydration, diet, and breaks
Our diets can drive anxiety and worsen mood which is what makes our food choices so important. Planning meals and being mindful of the types of food we buy can hep to reduce anxiety. When focusing on numerous different tasks, staying hydrated can be easily forgotten. Dehydration can cause headaches and decreased memory, and therefore decreased work productivity. Proper hydration boosts metabolism and reduces daytime fatigue, so its important to make sure that you’re increasing your water intake.
It’s important to have a working environment that will prevent distractions and discomfort. Finding a suitable and quiet area or separate room to set up your workspace will help to reduce distracting noises. Natural light is preferred to artificial light and can help to reduce dry or strained eyes. Temperature can also have an effect on work so make sure you are comfortable. If it’s too cold wear a jumper or put the heating on and if it’s too warm open a window or use a fan where possible.
It’s clear just how important creating an ergonomic workspace is in maintaining your physical wellbeing whilst you are working. You can also click here to read our article on working from home during COVID-19 for more tips on creating an efficient workspace.
If you require any further information or support, please don’t hesitate to contact us on either t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: firstname.lastname@example.org