We live in a society today that has accepted the sedentary lifestyle as normal. A sedentary behavior is defined as, "any activity involving sitting, reclining, or lying down that has a very low energy expenditure" (Falck, 2018). This sedentary behavior creates an unhealthy lifestyle that may result in unwanted medical conditions such as: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and even death (Falck, 2018). While some careers do require sitting for extended periods of time, there are ways to combat these negative effects associated with these sedentary behaviors.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics are extremely important in creating a workspace environment that promotes health and wellness long term. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ergonomics is defined as, "the scientific study of people and their working conditions, especially done in order to improve effectiveness" (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). The Cambridge Dictionary expands the definition of ergonomics as, "the study of the design of furniture or equipment and the way this affects people's ability to work effectively" (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021).
The study of ergonomics incorporates the natural physiology of the individual and creates an environment which promotes proper body mechanics. Maintaining proper posture promotes spinal health.
There are many ways in which you can create an ergonomically correct workspace.
1. Make sure you choose a chair that supports the spine's natural physiological curves.
Having a chair that has appropriate lumbar support can be tremendously beneficial to overall spinal health.
- The height of the chair is very important. Adjusting the height of the chair so that your feet are firmly placed on the ground is essential. If your chair's height does not adjust to the appropriate height you may require a footrest.
- The placement of your desk is very important to maintain an ergonomic workspace. It is imperative that there be enough space under the desk to allow for the passage of your knees, thighs and feet. You may have to adjust your desk height appropriately to ensure proper clearance of your knees (MayoClinic, 2021).
- If you work on the computer monitor, it is imperative that the screen be approximately arm lengths distance away and positioned at eye level (MayoClinic, 2021).
2.Keep key objects within reach while sitting.
These key objects include: keyboard, mouse, telephone, stapler and other office supplies that are utilized frequently throughout the workday (MayoClinic, 2021).
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathic Medicine is a branch of medicine in the United States of America that, "emphasizes the interrelated unity of all systems in the body, each working with the other to heal in times of illness" (American Osteopathic Association, 2021). The focus of osteopathy is understanding that the body works mainly via the musculoskeletal system as a modality to promote healing. The four tenets of osteopathy include:
- The body is a unit; a person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated
- Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function. (https://osteopathic.org/about/leadership/aoa-governance-documents/tenets-of-osteopathic-medicine/) Above information gathered from American Osteopathic Association, 2021.
How can proper Ergonomics and Osteopathy create a healthier environment?
Posture related pain and injury are serious issues affecting many in today's sedentary society. People spend almost half the day in the seated position. Sitting puts greater than 40% more pressure on the spine. If one slouches or leans forward that additional pressure on the spine can be upwards of 90% when compared to the standing position. This explains why back pain is so common in individuals who are constantly sitting and leaning forward staring at a computer screen. An osteopathic approach to ergonomics can help establish the root cause of the pain and develop a plan to address the environment that is contributing to the pain. The first approach in osteopathic medicine is to evaluate the individual and determine what is the cause of his/her pain. Is it structural or is it environmental? After an initial evaluation, there are many different treatment modalities that can help to address the pain that is associated with poor ergonomics. Some treatment options include: osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), massage, stretching, weight lifting, weight loss and/or increase physical activity. Identifying areas within one’s lifestyle in which there is poor posture and developing solutions by implementing proper ergonomics within the home and work environments can alleviate this unwanted pain that occurs with poor posture. Providing education on alternate postures and adopting mobility and strengthening routines to strengthen those muscles that become overworked with poor posture (Pakenham Osteopathy, 2019). The body wants to heal itself. Therefore, we must take charge and determine the root cause of this preventable pain. Proper ergonomics can make all the difference.
Importance of Buying an Ergonomic Chair
Purchasing an ergonomic chair requires research to determine which type of chair may offer the best benefit long term. There are many different ergonomic chairs on the market today. All of which offer similar features. These features include, but are not limited to the following: adjustable armrests, chair height and seat height along with lumbar support. The Soutine Ergonomic Office Chair from Flexispot is an ergonomic chair that has been designed with the body's natural anatomic physiology in mind. The Soutine Ergonomic Office Chair has a unique 3D lumbar support system to provide long-term support. This 3D lumbar support system offers a soft rebound system, 3-tier height adjustment and bionic engineered curve. In addition to the lumbar support, this chair has 4D adjustable armrests, adjustable seat depth and up to a 45 degree lounge recline tilt (FLEXISPOT, 2020).
There are many different products on the market today that claim they offer some type of ergonomic benefit. Whether you are purchasing a gaming chair, office chair, desk chair, accent chairs, bean bag chairs, papasan chair, massage chair, ergonomic chair or an egg chair, you must do your due diligence and determine if your individual ergonomic needs will be met by the product you intend to purchase. It is important to remember that there are not currently any standards that ensure each product implements the ergonomic guidelines. Therefore, you have to evaluate the chair you wish to purchase and determine if it offers the type of ergonomic benefits you need to create a healthy workspace.
Falck, S. (2018). MEDICAL NEWS TODAY. What are the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322910 Cambridge Dictionary (2021). ERGONOMICS. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/ergonomics MayoClinic (2021). Office Ergonomics: Your how-to-guide. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169 Miller, H. (2021). Herman Miller. The Story Retold. https://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/office-chairs/aeron-chairs/product-details/ FLEXISPOT. (2020). https://www.flexispot.com/ergonomics-3d-lumbar-support-office-chair-oc10b-oc10g Pakenham Osteopathy. Posture and Ergonomics Want Help With Posture Correction and Ergonomics? (2019). https://www.pakenhamosteopathy.com.au/posture-and-ergonomics/