…then I’ll begin.

I have recently been involved with some ergonomic workstation assessments at a client site and it struck me just how inappropriately some people’s workstations are set up for them to work at.  This not a criticism of those whose workstations were being assessed – having spent over 10 years chained to a computer when I worked as an accountant I am more than aware of the bad habits we can fall into – it’s just interesting for me to see things from another perspective now that I’m an osteopath.

‘But I don’t suffer from pain right now’

Maybe not, but bad posture is cumulative and problems build up over time.  People who work in offices will often sit at their desk, staring at their computer screen for hours on end, affording themselves little or no breaks except for those they can’t avoid.  They may even take their lunch break at their desk, using the time to catch up on social media etc.  This on its own would be bad enough for their back, neck, shoulders, etc., but add in poor workstation set up and it’s a recipe for pain, stiffness and a range of potential problems in the future.

‘I can’t afford all of that expensive equipment’

Some people think that the best way to tackle this problem is to throw money at it – buy an expensive chair and everything will be ok.  Not so.  Buying a ‘proper’ all-singing-all-dancing ergonomic chair may be a good start but unless it’s set up and used correctly then the point of it is lost – it would be like giving my mother an iphone – overkill for someone who only really wants to make and receive calls (sorry mum!).  Most general office chairs can actually be fine as long as they are adjusted and used correctly.

Some tips for workstation set-ups

Rather than spending hundreds of pounds on expensive new equipment, some relatively simple change to someone’s existing workstation can generally ensure a far better workplace set-up without any major financial outlay.

Examples of these may be:

  1. Ensuring the top of your screen is at eye level or slightly below (long-term laptop users should buy a laptop stand with separate keyboard and mouse).
  2. Adjusting your seat height so that knees are roughly at a right angle.  Shorter people may then need a footrest under the desk if the desk height cannot be adjusted.
  3. Making sure you sit right back into your chair at the base so that the lower part of your back is connected to the lumbar support (which most office chairs will have).
  4.  Adjusting the back of the chair so that your back is angled backwards by around 10-20 degrees enuring a comfortable position with the back fully supported by the chair.  People sometimes find this counter-intuitive as they want to sit bolt-upright at 90 degrees (and they’e seen many things on the internet telling them to do so!) however unless you are a Pilates instructor who is also a touch-typist then you are unlikely to be able to sustain this position for long.  Sitting reclined at an angle of 10-20 degrees allows the back of your chair to do the work for you.
  5. Familiarising yourself with all of the controls on your chair and how they work!

So what should I do now?

These are just a few basic tips which are a good starting point however everyone is different.  People will work in different ways and have different preferences for their set-up.  They may use the phone all day or they may only take the odd call.  They may be a designer who will spend most of the day working at a graphics pad, or they may work in accounts where they will be using a number pad for most of the day.  It is therefore often a good idea to get a proper, bespoke workstation assessment by someone such as a qualified osteopath , trained in ergonomics, who will be able to best advise for you and your own particular requirements.

If you think your workplace may need a proper workstation assessment, or if you’d like any further information then don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01354 694050 or email us at info@chatterisosteopaths.co.uk