Leading physiotherapist talks home ergonomics: how does your workstation measure up?
Are you sitting at your desk right now? Take a look at your body position. Freeze! We see you adjusting your posture.
Before your adjustment, we’re willing to bet that you were hunched over, leaning on an arm rest or sitting with a leg propped underneath you. While you may be comfortable now, the truth is, many of the habits we form while sitting at our desk can have long-term health implications.
Leading physiotherapist and founder of Gregory Commercial Furniture, Peter Gregory (BSc ’84) explains incorrect seating posture is the leading cause of a number of common problems for regular computer users, such as back and neck aches, shortness of breath and afternoon drowsiness.
“We’re all guilty of slumping into a C curve position at our desk, leaving our head hanging well forward of our shoulders and hips (particularly on a Friday afternoon). But did you know the average adult head weighs 5.5kg and for every inch it falls forward it doubles in weight? That means if your head is three inches forward, that’s 16.5kg hanging from your shoulders.
“That’s like trying to hold a bowling ball up in the air for eight hours a day!
“Slumping in your chair also causes your ribs to collapse on themselves resulting in shallow breathing which in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen your lungs deliver to your blood stream. This explains why people become more exhausted in the afternoon,” Peter explains.
As the creator of the award-winning Gregory seat design, Peter says “good posture can be recognised from a side view where the ear, shoulder and hip are in a vertical line, allowing gravity to pass efficiently through the body”.
Peter suggests the following to immediately improve your workstation ergonomics and ensure good posture:
1. Keep the keyboard and mouse close
Make sure your hands, keyboard and mouse are as close to your stomach as possible; the further your hands are from your body, the greater the arm strain.
2. Position your screen height and distance
Adjust your screen to be at eye height and close enough for you to read without having to move your head forward or squint to read what’s on the screen.
3. Adjust your chair
To avoid that ‘Friday Slump’, recline the back rest of your chair so your ear is vertically over your shoulder. This takes the load off your shoulders and neck.
4. Watch the placement of your feet
Be sure your feet are below your knees and flat on the floor. Avoid sitting cross legged at your desk as it forces you into poor posture.
5. Stand up and move around
Once an hour, stand up and take a few minutes to walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window – anything that gets you out of the chair.
6. Check your environment
Proper lighting, temperature and humidity are often overlooked in workplace ergonomics, but are essential for a good work environment. Make sure there is no outside glare on your computer screen and maintain a room temperature that is comfortable. Working in cold temperatures can cause injuries.
You’ve heard it from a professional; the smallest of changes to your workstation setup can have major impacts on your health – and the changes don’t have to be expensive. How does your setup measure up?
Peter Gregory is a leading physiotherapist and founder of Gregory Commercial Furniture. In 1988, Peter developed the first office chair to address occupational back pain in Australian office workers. Recently, Peter designed the Mobilization Magic Tool, to help people overcome muscles soreness and restore stiff joints. He is crowd funding the tooling costs. To find out more, visit: www.mobilizationmagic.com