Eight ways to make ergonomics work in the office, at home and on the go

A quick Internet search will garner you tons of information on correct ergonomic positions, distances and postures. You’re great at the Internet, so we’ll avoid repeating all that for you and skip to the good stuff. (Although, if you’re not great at the Internet or just not in the mood to search, check out OSHA’s recommendations.) Here, we’ve put together some tips we’ve developed in our office to address some of the most common ergonomics questions we face.

1. Pay attention to your body and your posture. >>Click to Tweet!>>

Find yourself rubbing your shoulders or wrists? Sore neck? Headaches? Chances are that something’s out of alignment. Try to get yourself back to what’s called “neutral posture.” That’s when your hands, wrists and forearms have a zero angle and are parallel to the floor. Knees and hips should be in line and parallel to the floor, while calves and thighs should form about a 90-degree angle.

2. Pick those wrists up! >>Click to Tweet!>>

Really! See all those veins and arteries in there? Putting pressure on them increases discomfort. So think of a wrist rest as more of a “palm rest.” Your muscles and nerves will thank you. And remember: You’re aiming for relaxed shoulders and upper arms, and horizontal (or “neutral”) forearms, wrists and hands.

3. If you’re craning, consider increasing the resolution or font size on your monitor. >>Click to Tweet!<<

The Hunchback didn’t even look good as a hunchback. These days, we’re getting more monitor real estate, and even if you’re working on a mobile device, don’t think twice about making things larger if you find yourself leaning forward or squinting. Screen defaults are usually set for your preteen cousin’s eyes, not ours.

4. Ergonomics on the go are important, too! >>Click to Tweet!>>

Thanks to great product suites from teams like Citrix, we’re spending more and more time on laptops and mobile devices, using them as primary machines for work and play. Our thumbs have never worked so hard, and we’re hunching over them in our laps or on our desks. Whenever possible, bring the screen closer to eye level, and add a full-size mouse and keyboard where you can.

5. Be resourceful in improving your workstation. >>Click to Tweet!>>

Those business books you’ve definitely read (you have, right?) make a great, inexpensive, foot rest to help bring your knees to 90 degrees and take the pressure off your thighs. You’ll probably find yourself leaning forward less, too. Those same books (or some others you’ve definitely read) can also raise your monitor or laptop height to the correct level. Have an old lamp around? Use it to brighten up your space. Ready to try a standing desk? Search for DIY options and build something custom to you.

6. Splurge where it counts, and when you can. >>Click to Tweet!>>

Consider a wireless keyboard and mouse to give you a greater range of heights for working. If your setup allows, look into a keyboard tray. LED and adjustable lighting can make a big difference as well. Adjustable height desks allow for necessary variation throughout the day.

7. Take a break, and don’t forget to stretch. >>Click to Tweet!>>

It’s hard to stress the importance of this enough (see what I did there?). The Internet is full of apps that remind you — and sometimes force you — to take a break. If you’re more into physical reminders, hang up a small desk stretch guide. And remember to rest your eyes; every so often blink rapidly, focus on something far away or just close your eyes for thirty seconds.

8. Give yourself time to adjust to changes. >>Click to Tweet!>>

For a fun experiment, put your watch, bracelet or fit device on your opposite wrist. Feels strange, doesn’t it? Leave it there for an hour or two and see how quickly it feels natural. The same applies to ergonomics. Any change feels different, but you must give yourself time to adjust. We recommend two weeks. If you’re not feeling better by then, make another adjustment, but always give your body time to adapt.

There’s a lot of information out there, so if you’re curious, definitely do the research. If your office doesn’t have an ergonomics team, consider championing it for yourself and your colleagues. Already have some fun tips? What do you do that we missed to help ergonomics work for you?