Ergo-whatics?

Many of us live at our desks during the workday.  We're encouraging Computing Center employees who are mostly deskbound to move around several times a day.  We're also providing better desk chairs and some workstations that can be used standing or sitting. 

Evolution shaped you to roam free, to set your muscles and cunning to the task of survival on the savannah. But we rarely roam beyond the walls of our office nowadays, wherever it may be, and evolution hasn’t caught up. These quick and easy fixes can help keep your muscles supple and reactions sharp in today’s professional jungle.

Wear the right shoes
Shoes make a bigger difference in the office than one might think and can directly affect the health of our knees, backs and more. The main culprit is high heels. The more often you forsake style in favor of lower heels and good arch support, the less likely you are experience pain later on down the road — especially if you use a standing desk.



Typing is harder work than you think
Repetitive strain injuries are a serious and sometimes debilitating condition in today’s office. Using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse can make a big difference. Ergonomic keyboards are split in the middle, allowing you type in a position your hand falls into naturally. They can also tent vertically to adapt to the natural curvature of your hands. Ergonomic mice provide extra support for the wrists and fingers. They’re small improvements, but over the course of 8-10 hour day they can save you a lot of grief later on down the line.

The right lighting
Staring at a screen all day isn’t an optimal workout for your eyes. Looking away from it at regular intervals, and making sure your screen is at least an arm’s length away can help prevent eye strain. You'll also want to take some time every 20 minutes or so for the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away from your screen and at something 20 feet away from you.
The right lighting, however, is just as important, particularly as you toggle back and forth between a large HD display, a small dimly lit cellular phone and paper documents. Task lights have movable arms, so you can adjust them during the day. Point them away from your screen for best results so you can illuminate your documents without creating screen glare.

Use a headset
If you spend a lot of time on the phone, consider having a receiver surgically grafted to your shoulder so you don’t have to hold it with your cheek. If that seems too extreme, buying a headset is also a viable solution. Hands-free Bluetooth sets are nice, but even a tethered set is better than permanently injuring your neck.

Low-tech monitor fix
While sitting on a phone book if your chair is too low is not recommended, stacking your monitor on a pile of books if it’s too low is perfectly fine. The top of the monitor should be at eye level in order to keep your neck in a neutral position and avoid unnecessary neck, back and shoulder strain.

Fix how you sit
The list of side effects of sitting for 8-10 days reads like a warning on barely-approved new medication: diabetes and heart disease, lowered metabolism, restricted blood flow and change to the way insulin is processed in your body. Add to the musculoskeletal disorders, and you might as well sign up for medical trials on not-yet-approved medication. The obvious quick fix is to sit less. Get up at regular intervals, walk around, stretch and stay in motion. Many people have achieved good results by alternating between sitting and standing — though it’s often a slipped disc that brings about this realization. If you must sit, try to spend a bit more on a good ergonomic chair.

Comfort comes with a bit of effort
If you spend just a little time and thought about how you’re sitting how your environment is affecting your health and how these tips can help you, you’ll be in good shape for a longer, happier work life.

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