Even if you’re sitting up straight in an ergonomically correct chair, with the computer and keyboard at the correct height, if you sit there for several hours, your body will not be happy.
by Clare Kumar
Working hard on our startup or small businesses, it is very easy to forget the basics.
By this I mean working healthy and staying healthy. Just like large corporate offices, your average small office or home office can be a minefield of ergonomic horrors that saps the body of strength, strains joints and muscles and prevent a hard working entrepreneur from being productive.
The equipment you use in your office goes a long way in setting up your chances for working in a healthy way. You will also want to establish positive habits to take care of yourself while at work.
1. Take Regular Breaks
You know the old saying “Moderation in all things”? Well, that is also true of work. Even if you’re sitting up straight in an ergonomically correct chair, with the computer and keyboard at the correct height, if you sit there for several hours, your body will not be happy.
For every hour of work, budget a 5 minute physical break. Get up out of your chair and move around. Walk to a window and enjoy some long distance viewing. Your eyes will appreciate the ability to focus at a longer distance. Place your printer further away from your desk or set an alarm on your computer to remind you to take breaks. Go and refill your water bottle, or schedule a regular walk around the block with a colleague. It will help refresh your eyes, mind and body and bring fresh energy to your tasks.
Stretching can counter the effects of long periods in the same posture by reducing soreness, tension and fatigue. Keep in mind that stretching should never cause pain. For maximum relief, stretch 2 or 3 times during the day. If you have health concerns, consult your healthcare professional before beginning a stretching program. Here are just a few of the stretches you might consider. For diagrams and more stretches with detailed descriptions, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety page on Stretching – At the Workstation.
a) Shoulder stretch
Shrug shoulders and hold for 10-15 seconds then release. Roll shoulders several times in one direction and then the other.
b) Neck stretch
Keeping your back straight, move your head to look down slowly and back to neutral position. Repeat several times. Look slowly from side-to-side. Never rotate from one side to the other while looking up. Slowly bring the right ear to the right shoulder, hold, and then back to centre. Repeat on the left side.
c) Side stretch
Link fingers together and lift arms overhead with palms facing the ceiling. Lean slowly to the left and back to the centre, then lean to the right and back to the centre.
d) Back stretch
Upper back – Link fingers together, face palms out and extend in front of you. Slowly round your back. Lower back – Keep your hips facing forward and gently twist your upper body to one side. Repeat to the other side.
3. Change position
Varying tasks throughout the day will help reduce muscle fatigue. Shift between writing, using the computer and talking on the phone for example. Workers with desks that can accommodate both sitting and standing positions are reported to change position 6-8 times every day.
What are you going to incorporate into your daily routine to maintain comfort and sustain productivity?