Sitting still at work is bad for your health, especially for your back. More than one in two Frenchmen work at a computer station, an activity that as we know does not encourage much movement. To prevent the risks related to working with screens, proper workplace ergonomics is essential. Here are 6 simple and useful tips (we don’t usually hear about).
Just like millions of French people, you regularly spend several hours in a row on your office chair in front of your computer. Do not believe for a second that this activity is harmless, because sitting still for long periods of time can lead to microtrauma, decreased muscle relaxation and an inadequate tissue oxygenation. Over time, this posture can affect your health and cause you pain.
In many cases, adapting the workspace for those needs and implementing proper equipment can limit those risks. Following some simple steps can also help you stay healthy at the office. Here are 6 helpful yet overlooked tips.
The lack of active breaks is bad for your health. Consider standing up from your desk every 15 minutes. Choose to ask for information from you colleagues by walking to their desk, instead of calling them. Make the best of your breaks and move. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, and if possible, go take some fresh air and breathe.
Muscle relaxation exercises help relieve tension and promote tissue oxygenation. These exercises, if done regularly (once per hour), will help you maintain or improve your range of motion. You must be careful, though, because choosing the exercises that are the most suitable to you, should depend on your fitness level and abilities. You can find some examples in this video.
This may surprise you, but a good pair of shoes can protect your back. Avoid high heels that cause a change in body posture and push your body weight forward (this movement is compensated by arching the back, which can have repercussions on the cervical spine), which makes you more prone to lower back pain. If you cannot work without heels, limit their height, this will help your back!
Even if men are less concerned with their shoes, they should not neglect their selection of footwear. Generally speaking, a good pair of shoes, beyond its looks, must be flat, have a padded insole that effectively supports the arches of your foot (you can also add a removable insole), should be shock absorbing and provide good support and excellent ground stability.
Poor visual correction is very often the cause of fatigue and headaches. Modifying your posture so you can see better can also cause muscle tension. Your eyesight changes over time, so you should consider going to your eye doctor at least once a year.
People who wear progressive glasses and check their screens with the lower part of their glasses, will have to make sure to adjust the height of their screens accordingly, so they can look at their screens without having to raise their chins (and avoid damaging their cervical spine).
Wearing glasses that filter the harmful blue light rays can help reduce the feeling of glare and can relieve your eyes.
It is a bit paradoxical that certain ergonomic chairs are considered so comfortable that they completely deter their users from moving. If you have a height adjustable desk, or if you have a high worktop, you should consider both standing and sitting throughout your workday. (Warning: standing for a long period of time is also not recommended).
You can also alternate between sitting on your work chair and a stool throughout the day. The stool, while not offering lumbar support, can however strengthen your back muscles by forcing you to change you posture to be able to sit straight. In the same way, if your chair has a tilt lock backrest, use it regularly in the unlocked position, it will be beneficial for you.
If you don’t have a chair with unlocked backrest or a stool, you can also opt for a seat cushion, that will not block the natural movements of your body and will help you stabilize your spine in a suitable position.
Of course, the choice of your seat should always take into account your physical condition and any specific health problem.
The use of the telephone, combined with notetaking or checking paper or digital documents, is a common situation at work. In these cases, many people hold the handset between their ear and shoulder. This position is completely discouraged because it is very traumatic for the articulation of the neck and back.
There is a simple solution to help you free your hands and avoid acrobatic postures: the headset (wireless preferably). It will allow you to turn or move without the hassle of the phone cable.
You can also use the speakerphone function of your phone if it doesn’t bother those around you.