Chiropractors Share Their Top Tips For Office Ergonomics
We reached out to chiropractors across Australia to discover their top tips for office ergonomics. From small adjustments to your everyday behaviour through to considerations of the equipment you use, we received some great responses. Discover how you can help improve your office ergonomics with the fantastic advice below!
Dr Daryl Ansell - Ansell Chiropractic
As chiropractors we often see patients with chronic neck pain, headaches and tight muscles that are caused by poor office ergonomics. A combination of the correct chair, desk and monitor position will often alleviate these conditions.
Listed below are my top tips on how to set up your office.
Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees equal to/or slightly lower than your hips.
Allow 15cm to 20cm between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees.
The backrest should support your back in a vertical position.
Ensure that the centre of the low back rest sits into your lumbar spine.
Your elbows should be level with the desktop.
- The desk should be at a height that enables your elbows to be at approximately 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.
Keep the space under your desk clear for good leg room.
- Keep your most commonly used items in your top desk drawer to reduce twisting and bending.
Dr Jon Powderly - Canberra Spine Centre
The most common question my patients ask me regarding office ergonomics these days is, ‘what do you think of those ‘sit/stand’ desks?’ My answer, quite frankly, is, ‘I think they are fantastic’. Let me explain why.
Firstly, maintaining any posture for long periods creates strain on the body, but none more so than sitting. Sitting causes an increased pressure within the discs, which over long periods of time, can lead to damage causing severe nerve irritation and pain. Getting up and about from your desk on a semi-regular basis (around every 30 minutes) is a great way to change the loads on your spine. A sit-stand desk allows you to do this with minimal interruption to your workflow.
There are fancy options where the whole desk moves, or cheaper retro-fit designs that fit on top of your existing desk. For those who don’t wish to spend the money, just set a timer for every 30 minutes to get up and do something else. This could be getting a drink of water, going to the printer, or even simply reaching for your toes (knees bent) and the ceiling a few times. Give that a go and see how much better you survive the day at your desk.
Image Credit: Mack Male.
Dr Peter Roennfeldt - Aberfoyle Park Chiropractic
Sitting for your spine is like sugar for your teeth. Our bodies are designed for movement and if we keep ourselves inactive for too long we can become weaker, making us more vulnerable to becoming damaged and inflamed.
For people who sit all day the best thing they can do is to set a timer for every 15-20 minutes. When the timer goes off they should take a 15-30 second break to stand up, slowly reach their arms above their head, stretch up, forwards, backwards, rotate both directions and to the sides. Then, they can sit back down and continue working.
Even for people at stand up desks it useful to take regular short breaks to stretch and change your body position relative to gravity as this helps refresh the body and the mind.
Dr Daniel Tilley - Gold Coast Chiropractic Centre
As we are using more and more technology in our lives, such as at work, home and entertainment, it is quickly becoming the norm to spend longer parts of our day in front of screens. Phone screens, computer screen and television screens are now holding our visual attention often for longer than we spend looking out into the wide world.
The suggested reason for screens creating risk with excessive use is that as 'the devices remain immobile on the desk, the worker is obliged to maintain the same static posture while working'. It is believed this static posture does not allow the body to move naturally, creating tension in key areas associated with pain and symptoms. The same findings have not been associated when using devices that allow movement and flow with use. These include mobile devices and paper viewing.
Let's say we can not get away from using technology in our office and we desire to reduce our chance of suffering from neck, shoulder and lower back pain. Here are some tips to break up the static in work day:
Focus on getting your meetings and phone calls moving. Walking meetings, walking phone calls. Use white boards for note taking during a meeting. It's easy to take a picture of and allows your to get away from the computer.
Try to reduce the time you read from a computer in a fixed posture. How about reading emails, reports and data from a mobile device or paper? It's much more like reading a book and allows you to constantly move naturally.
Minimize your time on the computer to typing tasks or computer only activities. Things like surfing the web, brainstorming and Skype or FaceTime calls are best done away from the static desk.
Image Credit: Matt Buchanan.