Ergonomics – The Science of Healthy, Productive Workplaces

We’ve all seen advertisements for ergonomic office equipment, but do we really understand what the term means? Ergonomics is actually a science based on the study of how easily workers are able to interact with and adapt to their professional environment. Its aim is to increase the health of workers, thereby increasing productivity. Ergonomically designed products for the workplace can include anything from office furniture to the visual interface on a computer program.

Ergonomics is an especially important component of the workplace when an employee experiences neck or back pain. This pain may be the result of a degenerative spine condition, such as facet disease or degenerative disc disease, a muscle strain or ligament sprain or soreness due to improper working conditions. Regardless of the cause, the professional environment should mitigate, rather than exacerbate, spinal discomfort.

Integrating ergonomics into your daily life

Below are products that can help in making your workspace more ergonomic:

  • Chairs – an ergonomically designed desk chair should conform to the natural curvature of your spine. It should also offer superior lumbar (lower back) support. Some chairs even feature cervical (neck) support.
  • Keyboards – a keyboard with ergonomic features should be adjustable so that the user can change the slant of the keyboard to the natural flexion of his or her wrists. Being forced to type at an awkward angle can cause pain and stiffness all the way up the arms and into the shoulders and upper back.

Additional lifestyle changes that can reduce back pain

There are a variety of lifestyle changes that can help mitigate neck and back pain. At work, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and walk around. Always maintain proper posture, whether sitting or standing. Refrain from lifting heavy objects – but if you have to lift heavy objects as part of your job, wear a back brace and practice safe lifting techniques. You also may want to avoid high-impact recreational activities that could exacerbate the amount of pressure placed on the joints and intervertebral discs of your spine. Instead, opt for low-impact exercise like hiking, swimming or elliptical training.