optimize your work set-up

Optimize your work set-up, time, and energy

Here is a quick 5 minute read to help you understand ergonomics to optimize your work set-up, time, and energy. Although a full ergonomic assessment is ideal, there are quick, easy, and affordable ways to optimize your workspace on your own. We want to provide you with the tools and knowledge to make some changes and ask questions!

1. Ensure your workstation gets the ergonomic stamp of approval.
Adjust your seat height to allow for a 90-degree angle at the elbows when they are levelled with the work surface. Raising the seat can be as simple as sitting on an added cushion.

Elevate your monitor screen so that the top of the screen is at eye level. You can use textbooks or a storage box to sit your monitor on.

Support what needs to be supported.

Provide shoulder support by utilizing armrests.
Support your wrist on the desk or gel cushion with your wrists in a neutral position.
Provide lumbar support by placing a rolled towel or support cushion behind your back.

Support your feet by aiming for a 70-90 degree bend at the hips and knees and having them lay flat on the floor or up on a stool or stack of books.

2. Take a 2-minute standing breaks every 20 minutes!
Standing for a minimum of 2 minutes every 20 minutes can have a significant impact on our health and combat a sedentary lifestyle. Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First Twenty Minutes, indicates that sitting for a prolonged period of time tends to cause physiological changes within muscle tissue. In her book she explains that many studies have shown that standing every 20 minutes can reduce the chance of diabetes, heart disease and improve brain function. To put this in practice you could stand to do a few tasks (completing a call, reading a paper document, etc), or try doing computer work from a kitchen counter while standing. Gretchen goes on to say that for your mini work break you should walk around your home/workspace as there are even more health benefits!


3. Consider foam rolling your trunk, back & legs during your break!
Foam rolling has been shown to decrease low back stiffness from sedentary behaviours, compared to simply just standing. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can use a corner of the wall/door frame or a tennis ball. When massaging the muscles of the back and legs, try to find tender points and focus in on these spots for 1-2 minutes.
4. Prevent eye fatigue by following the 20:20:20 rule!
Take 20 second breaks from looking at the screen, every 20 minutes to focus on something 20 feet away. This rule was developed by Jeff Anshell, a specialist in visual ergonomics. If you need help to remember to do this, simply set a timer on your computer or phone for every 20 minutes.
5. Take an Exercise Break!
Aim to complete 30-60 minutes of exercise daily to maintain good physical and mental health. If you are working from home, you have a much shorter commute to your workspace! Try using the bonus time before or after work that you have gained from not having to commute to exercise. If you are struggling to stay consistent with your exercise, try buddying up. Calling a friend and telling them your exercise goals, may help with accountability.
6. Invest time/money for prevention.
Investing some time to understand the best ergonomic set-up will be worthwhile as our bodies will adapt and adopt certain positions without us being fully aware. These positions and habits can lead to further aches down the road.

If you are working from home full-time, investing in a chair and desk that is adjustable and right for you would be worthwhile. Although buying online is easiest, it is recommended to go in to the store and try them out, when possible.

If you are often on the phone, purchasing a headset would be worthwhile. Having to hold a phone to your ear doesn’t seem like such a big task but as it becomes more repetitive and you are needing to multitask, we tend to adapt faulty postures.

Article by Ashley Jeon.

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