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Overlooked Ergonomics Practices and Adjustments by Professionals – A Complete Guide

20 March 2023

Many professionals are already aware of basic ergonomics practices to help improve work comfort and performance, such as sitting upright, keeping the workplace organized, and taking breaks. However, a few ergonomic practices tend to be overlooked, even though they can be instrumental to helping you stay productive and efficient at your workplace, be it at home or an office. At the same time, it can also help you stay more comfortable and limit the risk of pain and strain in your body in the long term. With that said, this article helps highlight some overlooked ergonomics practices and adjustments by professionals that can make a significant difference in your overall working speed and quality.

Overlooked Ergonomics Practices and Adjustments by Professionals

Below we have outlined some overlooked ergonomics practices and adjustments by professionals so that you can change the way your work to maximize your overall working efficiency. Therefore, this article does not cover some common ergonomics aspects and assumes that you're already taking care of those. So, here are additional things you must keep in mind.

Don't Sit Completely Upright

A lot of us may think that we must sit completely upright to maintain good posture when working. However, sitting at 90 degrees can put your hip joint in an awkward position, which can put unnecessary strain on your hips and your lower back. At the same time, you may also compromise your posture over time because you may feel the need to lean forward to alleviate stress on your back from sitting upright for long periods.

Instead, you should set your backrest at a slight recline. You'll need a high-quality ergonomic office chair with a backrest reclining feature to make this adjustment. So, if you pick the one linked above by FlexiSpot, you can set your chair at about 100 to 110 degrees. You don't need an accurate adjustment because an estimate will suffice. Sitting in this position will help keep your hip joints in a comfortable position while still allowing you to maintain good posture and focus on your work.

Finding the Ideal Position for Your Legs

In addition to keeping your back relatively upright, you should not forget to place your legs and feet in the ideal positions when sitting at your ergonomic office desk. There are a few different aspects that you must keep in mind to keep your feet and legs in the ideal position, and you can find them below.

1. Make sure that both of your feet are flat on the floor. Avoid dangling your feet or letting only the toes touch the ground. In the case of the former, you'll put unnecessary strain on your hip joint, which can lead to lower back pain and eventual injury. With the latter, you may start to put a strain on your calf muscles.

2. Make sure not to sit cross-legged or with one leg over the other. Doing so will prevent one thigh from resting on the seat of your ergonomic office chair. As a result, you may develop muscle imbalances which can eventually lead to injury in your lumbar spine.

3. Place your feet just below your knees so that your knee joint is at about 90 degrees when you're sitting.

4. Adjust the height of your ergonomic office chair so that your knees are just below or at the same level as your hip joints.

Keep Your Arms and Elbows in the Ideal Positions

Something we may overlook in our posture is the position of our arms and elbows when we're sitting at our ergonomic office desk. So, the ideal positions can be achieved by making sure of the following.

Keep your forearms resting entirely on the armrests of your chairs. You should not rest your elbow only because that can lead to mouse elbow—a condition that can cause pain in your elbows. You may need to adjust the height of the armrests of your ergonomic office chair to achieve this.

Ensure that your forearms are parallel to the floor so that your wrists are straight when they rest on your keyboard or mouse. Excessive wrist flexion can result in wrist conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result in excessive pain and difficulty in continuing work until the condition recovers.

Ensure that your elbows are flexed at about 90 degrees. You may need to move closer to your ergonomic office desk to achieve this position.

Stretching Your Body to Alleviate Stress on Specific Areas After Long Periods of Being Seated

Sitting for several hours can take a toll on your body in the long term. You can increase the risk of pain and injuries in certain muscle groups, such as your back, neck, shoulders, and arms, and a lack of proper physical activity can also lead to lower life expectancy.

So, below are some ways you can introduce some physical activity during your work hours, regardless of whether you go to a gym multiple times a week or now.

Stretch Your Lower Back and Spine

You should make it a point to perform a basic stretching motion for your lower back and spine at specific parts of the day when working. When sitting, you're putting a lot of strain on your lower back and spine even if you take good care of workplace ergonomics.

One way to counteract that is to stand up from your seat after every 30 minutes. It can also help to use a timer on your computer to remind you when you should perform this stretching motion.

When you stand up, place both of your palms on your glutes while ensuring that your palms are not coming over your hip joint. Make sure that you're standing straight. Next, push your hands forward so that you're your upper body gets pushed behind the rest of your lower body, specifically your glutes. You'll feel a significant stretch in your lower back and spine.

Every professional does not have the comfort of performing specific exercises in their workspace because of a lack of privacy and space to do so. So, doing this stretch is a great way to help balance that. Another great thing about this type of stretching exercise is that you don't have to move about to perform it. You can return back to work in less than a minute because you must hold the stretched position for only a few seconds.

Stretch Your Lower Back and Spine with an Exercise

If you can perform specific exercises, however, then here's one that also helps with keeping your back healthier.

The exercise is known as a bridge. You only need to perform a few repetitions of them to help your body feel better.

To perform the exercise, lie flat on the floor so that your entire back and the back of your head are resting on the floor. Raise your knees off the floor so that your feet rest against the floor but are slightly ahead of your knees. Your knee joints should be at 90 degrees when you are in the flexed position of this exercise.

Next, place your hands flat on the ground beside your torso. Once every part of your body is stable, use your glutes and abdominal muscles to pull your body off the floor while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold this position for a second and then lower your body in a controlled motion. Repeat the process until failure or until you feel you've done enough to stretch your muscles.

Aim to perform this exercise once every two hours when you're at work.

Exercises for Your Upper Body

A few other exercises you can consider for your upper body are discussed below.

You can perform this exercise while still sitting at your ergonomic office desk. The exercise is called a seated Y, and all you need to do is raise your arms above your head to create a Y shape. This exercise helps you stretch your shoulders and your arms, allowing you to help keep the muscles from staying in one position for long periods.

Another exercise you can perform is air punches or shadow boxing. This helps you use your entire body with a focus on your shoulders and arms. Just make sure that you warm up your muscles a bit before attempting this exercise to avoid pulling any muscle. A simple way to warm up for this exercise is to perform the same motions of this exercise in slow and controlled repetitions.

Final Thoughts

To conclude this guide on overlooked ergonomics practices and adjustments by professionals, it's important to mention some of the little things in setting up your workspace. For example, you should also ensure that your monitor screen is at your eye level to prevent neck strain, and you must also keep it at about arm's length to prevent eye strain.