Broadly speaking, ergonomics is the study of how to design and use tools and other objects more effectively to decrease the risk of injury associated with their use. Ergonomics comes from two Greek word roots: “nomoi,” meaning “natural laws” and “ergon,” meaning “work.” In other words, ergonomics is a way of trying to make things work according to natural laws.
Many people associate ergonomics to the workplace, but injuries due to poor ergonomics can occur anywhere. They can arise from hobbies or leisure activities that have nothing to do with work. Fortunately, you can apply the same principles of ergonomics to your daily life, both in and out of work, to reduce your risk of injuries.
Ergonomics at Work
Many people spend most of their work days seated or standing in the same position. However, you should try to change things up in small ways throughout the day. If you usually sit, it may be possible to perform some of your tasks while standing. You can make small adjustments to your chair throughout the day, perhaps adjusting the backrest so it reclines slightly. You should stretch out your arms, fingers, hands, and torso once in a while and take small breaks during which you stand up and walk around for a few minutes.
If you work on a computer, try to keep the screen at eye level or slightly below so that you do not need to crane your neck up or down to look at it. Avoid cradling your phone between your ear and your shoulder, as that forces your neck into an unnatural position.
Ergonomics at Home
People spend hours of their free time using a handheld electronic device or performing hobbies such as sewing. These lend themselves to hunching your head and back over what you are doing. This can put tremendous strain on your neck. When you spend prolonged periods with your head held in a forward position, gravity pulls harder on it, making it much heavier than it really is and forcing your neck muscles to work harder at holding it up. Instead of hunching over what you are doing, try to bring your work to you. This may require sitting in a chair with armrests so you do not tire your arms by elevating them for prolonged periods.
In addition to treating neck pain, a chiropractor like a chiropractor in Glen Burnie, MD, may be able to advise you on better ergonomics and train you in better posture. This can help prevent the pain from coming back. Contact an office to schedule an appointment.
Thanks to Mid Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for their insight into how to apply ergonomics at work and at home.