Everyone talks about the importance of posture and ill-effect of a bad posture. But are sufficient measures really taken to ensure a good posture?
Chronic neck pain and backaches are a few of the major complaints from people with bad posture especially while working. Sitting in one for long hours itself is strenuous for the spine and muscles and if the posture isn’t right, the risks are even more.
Health effects of a bad posture:
- Tightening of certain muscles
- This leads to pain in joints
- Neck pain and backaches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is not uncommon because of a bad wrist posture while working.
These are the short term effects which one immediately experiences as a result of bad posture. Prolonged bad postures can lead to severe degenerative effects on the muscles and nerve endings leading to a lot of spine and cervical problems in particular.
Ways to improve the workplace posture:
- Ears should be aligned with the shoulder. The head forward posture where the person bends low to concentrate on the monitor is one of the main culprits among other bad postures.
- Do not cross your legs- keeping both the feet flat on the ground is another important aspect of a good posture
- Keep your spine straight
- Move your shoulder blades back to avoid that hunch
- Keeping your hand in level with the desk while using the mouse is very important
- There are several desk exercises one can do to loosen those sore muscles every now and then
- Wrist exercises shouldn’t be ignored
- Get up from your desk- even if the posture is good, sitting for hours together isn’t healthy. You should get up from your work space and stretch a bit, walk around a little every now and then.
- A lumbar support comes in handy to maintain that natural curve of your spine
- A good posture can be well complemented by a healthy and active lifestyle. If your work environment involves a sedentary life, spend enough time for physical exercises daily and posture correcting exercises come in helpful.
As an individual these are few steps to take to correct posture at the workplace. But what can the employer do to help employees maintain a good posture?
The employer’s contribution in maintaining the employee’s health:
A healthy employee means a productive employee and lower number of sick leaves. So by investing in ergonomic office furniture, adjustable height work surfaces, adjustable desks, mobile desks, etc. the employer is actually making a wise investment by taking into account the employee’s health.
- Adjustable height work surfaces:
There are several adjustable height workbenches available in the market. Work surface of the right height is required to keep the work equipment at a level convenient for the correct hand placement. Though a height adjustable chair would solve the purpose in most cases, a height adjustable work surface combined with height adjustable chair can make it comfortable for employees of all heights. Several work environments call for standing while working and for this the adjustable work desk comes in handy. This would help maintain correct posture, even while standing. These work surfaces are also designed efficiently to bear the weight of the work equipment even at elevated heights.
- Adjustable desks:
There are specific sit-to-stand work surfaces and desks that can conveniently be used in both sitting and standing postures. These might not occupy much space either. They move up and down without calling for the seating position adjustment for the user. This would reduce the bad posture caused by hunching down to look at the monitor. This desk also makes the mouse handling easier because a bad posture of the wrist can lead to CTS. The desks should also have enough room for comfortable placement of the legs. Also the work area should be conveniently accessible from the chair.
- Mobile desks:
Mobile desks are useful, especially in case of office spaces with tight space constraints or those that involve a lot of moving around. This makes it easier for easily transferring heavy workstations.
- Ergonomic office furniture:
Besides being adjustable and mobile, the office furniture should be ergonomic. Ergonomic furniture like a correctly shaped chair and a desk are pretty essential. Maintaining an erect spine and keeping its natural curve are the important aspects while sitting. The back rest of the chair would be high enough to support the spine. There should also be a proper support for the lumbar region. A chair with an aptly curved back support can make things really comfortable. Also the work desk should be wide enough to sufficiently house the workstation or equipment and still give enough space for the user’s hand movements and mouse handling. Also, if the chair height isn’t very convenient for a user, there should be sufficient support surface provided to rest the feet flat while sitting.
Health benefits of the adjustable and ergonomic work furniture:
- An adjustable height work surface and adjustable desk can help correct several posture points. The monitor at eye level avoids hunching and head forward positions, thus help reduce the strain on the neck. Also sufficient hand mobility and correct height of the keyboard and mouse placement can reduce the strain on hands, wrists and shoulders.
- Mobile desks would help reduce strain on the back from carrying heavy work stations.
- Ergonomic office furniture like a properly shaped adjustable chair would provide sufficient spine support, ensuring lower instances of backaches. And the height adjustable chairs would help the user keep his thighs aligned parallel to the floor reducing the strain on the leg muscles as well.
Besides investing on adjustable height work surfaces and ergonomic furniture, there are a few additional steps a responsible employer could take for the employees’ health and welfare:
- The company should encourage employees to get up and get moving from their work space every now and then..
- The company could also create awareness among the employees about the importance of a good posture.
- The furniture invested upon should be such that they would fit and be comfortable for users of all sizes and heights
- Going a step further, the company could also arrange fitness and posture correction programs for its employees.
Before all that, the first main thing is to understand that a comfortable and healthy employee is a productive employee and so make it a point to make the workspace cozy, convenient and ergonomically sound.