Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

No?  Well let me help you.

I spent four years as a Work Station Assessor when I worked as a programmer and learnt a lot about how to sit and arrange a desktop, so I'm going to pass it on to you.  This doesn't mean I'm medically trained, just that I've been trained in the basics of ergonomics.

1.  Make sure your back is supported properly.  It is said that your back needs to be at 90 degrees to your legs, but later research shows an angle of 95 degrees to be better.  What I learnt is that as long as your back is supported and you're relaxed you shoud be fine.  We had one man who was almost lying down in his chair and had no back problems, probably because he was relaxed.  Those who hunched their shoulders had problems.

2.  Don't let your legs dangle.  Make sure your feet are resting on something, so your legs aren't being pulled off the chair.  If your legs aren't supported it pulls on your back and causes problems.  Footrests are ideal for this and if you can't find one that suits, make one from chipboard and old bits of wood, or get a friend to do it for you.  Just make sure it's the correct height.

3.  The keyboard should be placed so that your forearms are at 90 degrees to your body, or as near as possible.  This gives your shoulders a chance to relax.  Also try and make sure that your wrists aren't forced back while typing as this can lead to problems later on.

4.  The top of the screen should be at eye level.  This may not be possible with a laptop, but do try and avoid looking up at the screen.  If you're looking at it or slightly down to it, you'll be OK, but if you find yourself leaning forwards a lot, take regular breaks to ease the neck muscles.

5.  Take a break every forty minutes or so.  Make a drink, go to the loo, walk the dog, anything to get the blood flowing and give your limbs something else to do.  Five to ten minutes ought to do it.

6.  Take off your watch, bangles etc.  Having something on your wrist weighs it down and will feel uncomfortable as well as put unnecessary strain on muscles that are already working hard typing.

7.  Take everything out of your pockets.  Front or back, it doesn't matter, remove the lot.  Anything in your back pocket will put your spine out of kilter, anything in your front pocket can dig into you and be uncomfortable.

If you have any ergonomic tips to share please do so, always remembering that all our bodies are different and will react differently, especially if you have ingrained habits.

See you on Friday.  Adieu.


E. Arroyo said...

I need this and I think we don't take it seriously enough until something starts to hurt. Thanks! I also gave you an award on my blog. =)

Martin Willoughby said...

EA: Prevention, as they say, is better than a cure. I shall drop over next week to receive it, but I promise I won't do a Gwyneth.