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Home Office Ergonomics: Is Your Chair Causing Back Pain?

Shopify API February 28, 2022 No Comments
Learn why home office ergonomics are essential for preventing common workplace injuries such as neck and back pain.
Woman sitting at an ergonomically correct desk

Feb 2022. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.

Woman sitting at an ergonomically correct desk

The past couple of years has seen a dramatic shift in the workplace. The number of people who work from home doubled in 2020 from 20% to 42%. They’ve placed tiny desks in closets, worked in their pajamas from bed, and conducted video calls while seated at their kitchen table surrounded by kids, significant others, and pets.

In the midst of it all, office ergonomics have taken a backseat. If we have a desk chair, it's probably the cheapest one we could find on short notice. And a cheap desk chair is the fastest way to back pain. Most modern offices provide ergonomic options, including adjustable chairs and sit-stand desks. But how many of us are making an effort to provide those options at home? We sit slumped on the couch or prop ourselves up with pillows in bed, but correct posture and positioning are all but forgotten.

Keep reading to find out if your desk chair is causing your back pain and learn how to implement proper office ergonomics at home.

What Are Office Ergonomics?

If we sit slumped over, we cannot work as long since our back may start to ache halfway through the day. And if our wrists are constantly forced backward as we type, we may end up with carpal tunnel and need to find alternative ways to work on the computer. These seemingly minor postural issues can wreak havoc on our bodies in the long term.

Ergonomics focuses on efficiency. Therefore, office ergonomics concentrates on creating a workspace that fits your body. A comfortable chair, a desk, a mouse that fits your hand, a keyboard placed at the right height – these common office tools need to be adjusted to ensure workplace efficiency.

The Problem with Sitting

According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for eight hours a day has a similar mortality risk to smoking or obesity. And guess how long the average American sits each day? Eight hours!

Of course, the Mayo Clinic study looks at how lack of activity affects the body. But it also casts a light on how much strain sitting all day puts on the body.

Sitting with your back hunched and your tailbone tucked is a recipe for back pain. It may start off comfortable, but eventually, gravity takes hold and drags our shoulders forward and down. Our core engages, our back muscles stretch, our hamstrings tighten, and our hips are overextended. You may start to feel pain in your shoulders, neck, low back, hips, or glutes- or maybe a combination of all five.

A study done by the World Mental Health Survey found that chronic neck and back pain is often associated with mood disorders, alcohol abuse, and anxiety. On the other hand, employees who practice good office ergonomics are more productive and less stressed than their uncomfortable counterparts.

Your Setup

Woman standing at an ergonomically correct desk
While your posture is the cornerstone of office ergonomics, it's not the only factor you must consider. Your whole office setup will play a role in ergonomics, including your chair, desk, mouse, and keyboard.

1. The Chair

The right chair is the holy grail of office work. You want to position your chair so that you can sit up tall. Your spine has a natural curve, and you want to maintain this curve while you work. You can do this by finding a chair with lumbar support or buying a lumbar pillow.

Your shoulders should be positioned over the hips, and your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, with your feet resting comfortably on the floor. Your elbows should also be at 90-degrees as you are typing on your keyboard, and your wrists should be completely straight.

You probably know if your office chair is causing your back pain. Here's a hint: If you grunt when you stand up after a long day at work, you probably need a new chair!

The Desk

A sit-stand desk is an excellent addition to any office because it allows you to change positions more often. However, you still need to pay attention to posture even when you're standing. Putting too much weight on one foot or the other, slumping as you stand, and hyperextending the knees will mess with your posture as much as a bad office chair.

Your desk will also be important for preventing neck pain. Ideally, your computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below. It should also be an arm's length away and placed directly behind your keyboard. This position ensures proper neck posture. Your neck should be straight, and your chin slightly tucked while you look at the monitor.

One study suggests that cutting liquid calories from your diet can result in more weight loss than cutting calories from solid foods. Researchers speculate that this is because liquid foods are less likely to satisfy our hunger.

3. The Mouse and Keyboard

Work-related wrist pain is associated with the longest absences from the workplace and is usually caused by repetitive strain. Therefore, choosing the right mouse and keyboard is imperative to prevent wrist pain.

Proper wrist ergonomics means keeping the wrists as straight as possible. You do not want any bend in the wrists, whether up and down or right and left. This means your mouse and keyboard should be right in front of you when your arms are at 90 degrees.

Realistically, not all desks are set up for this, so you may need to get creative by adding books or a platform for your keyboard to lift it to the right height.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Poor office ergonomics can result in all sorts of severe health conditions, from neck and back pain to headaches and eyestrain. In fact, low back pain is the number one work-related disability in people under 45. So while investing in home office furniture is not at the top of everyone's priority list, the return on investment is worth it.

Office ergonomics increases circulation, strengthens muscles, and decreases pain. Set yourself up for success by making a few small changes to your home office and taking care of your body while working at home.

If you’d like some support as you focus on self-care, don’t forget to use your Kailo patch. Our recent clinical study showed a significant decrease in lower back pain, as well as nerve pain and carpal tunnel.

Don’t have Kailo yet? There’s no need to go another day without it. Buy your Kailo patch today

Disclaimer: Kailo should not be used if you have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant. Always consult your doctor or health care professional before using Kailo.


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