Re-design your Workstation to Cure RSI

Ergonomic Comfort at Work

Why sit in 1 position for hours?

What happens to the spine when we sit on a chair?
What happens to the spine when we sit on a chair? | Source

You too can get rid of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) by re-designing your workstation for more comfort at work to suit your own body and your own circumstances with sound ergonomics.

What is Ergonomic Design?

Ergonomics is the science of designing furniture and equipment in the work place and at home to facilitate the actions performed by the human body. Proper ergonomic design prevents chronic bad posture and movement habits which are the cause of RSI. RSI leads to long-term disabilities like carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic neck and back pain, poor circulation, and depression. It is well worth redesigning your workstation to improve your health and productivity. In this article we discuss why sitting on chairs all day can seriously damage your health. We suggest easy and simple ways to modify working at a desk to improve your body's comfort and freedom of movement.

So what is wrong with a conventional desk?

Sitting at a Table or Desk

Rather than spending thousands of dollars on ergonomic equipment, you can modify your work station for free by listening to your body. What exactly happens when you are perched on a chair? It limits the body to a very small number of positions, none of which are comfortable for very long. The upper part of the body leans over the desk or table, supported by your elbows and hands.

Balance

When you are engaged in a telephone conversation or taking notes, you are leaning to one side, the head tilts accordingly, adopting a permanently imbalanced position. What is going on below the desk? The seat area has to adjust its movements slightly but constantly every time a movement is made upstairs (above the desk) by the arms, the head, etc. The waist, hips and thighs are making compensating movements to keep the body in balance. To facilitate these movements, the pelvis should be straight so that the trunk is supported by the sitting bones (the base of your pelvis: two hard protrusions under your seat) and not the tail. So far so good, the pelvis is supported by the chair, but the weight of your legs is still pressing down on the ankles and feet, which really don't get much relief at all.

Chairs are Bad for You

Observe people sitting on chairs. Legs shift, cross, uncross, kick a little. Feet twitch with discomfort. Crossing the legs takes the weight off one foot temporarily but only to give it to the other foot, so that's no help. Meanwhile the heart, whose job it is to circulate blood throughout your body, has to pump blood to the brain and down to the weighed down toes stuck inside laced, well polished shoes. No wonder a person is tired after a day's work at the office or a dinner party in a posh restaurant! What is the solution? The solution is to frequently get up, walk about, arch back and, preferably, circumstances permitting, lie down on the floor and kick your legs high up in the air. At the office, take the trouble to re-arrange your workstation to fit your very own body measurements.

Sitting Down

Sit on a chair facing sideways to the mirror and look at your pelvis. Which way are you sitting?

1. This sitting position is not the most balanced way of sitting. However, since the key in sitting is to (a) frequently change position and (b) to always make sure that the spine is supported, it is perfectly o.k. to slouch for a short while, as long as you take the trouble to support the gap between the chair and your spine as shown here with the little red cushion.

2. This position is the most balanced way of sitting. However, it is not easy to hold for any length of time unless the back is appropriately supported to prevent slouching. Again, notice that back support.

3. Perhaps the keyboard is too far away from you or you wouldn't have to lean forward like this.

Re-design your Workstation

1.The seat of your chair should be at knee height (where your legs bend), so that your feet can rest flat on the floor. Failing this, if your legs are dangling or resting on the ball of the foot. You will be uncomfortable and develop varicose veins from the constant pressure of the chair edge against the back of your knees.

2.Your weight must rest on the sitting bones (two protrusions under your bum), not the tailbone. Prop something behind your lower back if you have a tendency to slouch.

3. When you are seated, the desk top should be at waist height, where your elbow bends to allow the forearms and hands to rest horizontally on the desk without having to lift your shoulders. This is also the correct height for a keyboard.

4. The height of a computer monitor should be at eye level, to allow your spine to be held fully erect and balanced. This is impossible with laptops so I compromised and raised the laptop onto a couple of thick photo albums and use a wireless pen tablet on the table top.

So Far So Good...

All the above suggestions are helpful in an office environment where workers have little or no influence over the design of their work place. If you are in the privileged position of being allowed to work from home however, re-designing your work place to combat RSI can be taken a lot further towards improving health, comfort and productivity. Watch the next video to become fully aware of how much harm chairs really can do to your body.

Are YOU Chairbound? Loosen the Hamstrings

Are you Chairbound?

One of the main causes of back pain, being overweight, and constant fatigue is that we sit on chairs too much. Most of our waking hours is spent sitting - at breakfast, on the bus, in the car, at work, at lunch, at the dinner table, in the toilet. In fact, if we are not either walking or sleeping we are probably sitting. Holding a position for any length of time is the most tiring form of activity. It takes more energy and effort to sit perched on a chair for hours than to run around the block. Sitting on chairs causes stiffness in the hips and legs because the legs are held in a constantly bent position. The result is a permanent shortening of the

  • hamstrings (the tendons behind the knees).
  • And the "Y" ligaments (those that attach the leg to the pelvis).

What Chairs Do to your Hamstrings

Please try the following short experiment and be surprised.

1. Lie on your back on the floor or on your bed.

2. Now lift your feet up towards the ceiling. What shape are your legs making?

Your Own Built In Seat

Chairs were originally invented long, long ago in less hygenic times, to stay off cold and dirty floors. This was long before central heating, clean carpets and parquet flooring. Now please take the trouble to get off your chair for a minute and sit on the floor. You can discover your very own built-in seat. Simply sit on the floor with a straight back and gently rock from side to side so as to feel your sitting bones, the two base-protrusions under your bum.

Now I let you in on a secret:

Floordesk

I got so fed up and uncomfortable sitting at my desk that I found an alternative way of working. I recently sawed off the legs of a wooden chair, and use a very low wooden coffee table as my desk. In this way my legs rest on the floor under the table. Or I can bend my knees, move my legs in many different ways to vary the positions while working for many hours non-stop.

Low desk with legless chair.
Low desk with legless chair.

A pen tablet as opposed to a mouse or key-pad as described in the first video is shownagain in the above illustration. The advantage of using a pen tablet rather than a mouse or keypad is that the movements of the hand and wrist that control the actions is far easier and versatile. Get one now to prevent RSI in the fingers and wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome).

Not Even a Legless Chair

Then, Even more recently, only a few days ago, I found I didn't even need the legless chair any more, finding I could sit more comfortably without it. Yes, you may think, but what about back support? Easy! Now I can lie back and have a rest, close my eyes to think while untangling my tired neck and upper back all at the same time!

Just with a cushion, voila!
Just with a cushion, voila!

A New Way of Working at the Computer

This new way of working at the computer with its many possible variations of holding my body has made me a lot more productive and less tired. The greatest advantage is that I don't feel stiff anymore. On the contrary; I am beginning to feel supple and mobile again like in my dancing days. I was almost not going to tell you for fear of being "weird", but if you think about it, the largest part of the world population lives on the floor. Their bodies are a lot less degenerated than ours and they have never even heard of RSI. As long as the room is clean, for me, for now, using the floor is an ideal solution.

Listen to your body

Sitting on the floor may not be every body's cup of tea, especially if you are stiff in the hips and knees. But anyone can make a gradual change towards increased comfort and mobility. Every individual can re-design their workstation to fit personal needs. My last option of working on the floor with plenty of space around me to move and stretch works best for me. I give you those extreme examples to illustrate that by listening to your body, by trying out different possibilities you can attain more comfort and improved productivity. It's called ergonomics, or physical intelligence.

Source

Meditate While You Work

I even found a way to fill up dead waiting time with brief moments of meditation while waiting for the computer to obey my orders. The above Mantra is a great aid to completely shut off the mundane mind, to cleanse it for fresh productive thought.

Be Aware of the Chair

The science is in, and it's scary. Sitting on chairs is bad for you - very bad. So much so that some workplaces are starting to act. Read more in this article:

Be Aware of the Chair by Lissa Christopher

Finally...

Good luck with your experiments at redesigning your workstation. If you found this article useful, rate it, leave a constructive comment and join me, as a follower, to get updated with my future articles and videos.

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© 2016 JULIETTE KANDO - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will be reported with a DMCA notice and will be removed.

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Comments 24 comments

Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 22 months ago from Andalusia Author

I Updated this article today with new evidence on the damage chairs can cause.


Edward 111 4 years ago

I must do something about my working habits as I often get a stiff back and head ache when sitting at the computer for hours. Thanks for all the good tips here Sue. I will try lower seating for starters.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hello coffeegginmyrice,

Especially for people who work from home, we now have the freedom to ignore restricting conventional norms, get off the chairs, and make ourselves more comfortable while working. Like Juliette Kando shows in her YouTube videos, proper ergonomics at the work place make you more healthy and more productive at the same time. You just have to trust your own common sense however unusual it may seem to the indoctrinated masses. Change has always been the way forward.

As for your headaches: Headaches are often caused by stiffness and blockages in the neck area. You can prevent them by loosening your neck as described in a hub I wrote on how to treat a stiff neck.


coffeegginmyrice profile image

coffeegginmyrice 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Hi Sue! This is so useful. I get into a very tiring position all day facing my computer, using the dining area (table and chair), crossing my legs underneath or stretching across another chair. My sitting position leaves me neck and shoulder stiffness leading to a headache by nighttime. I enjoyed watching the videos of Juliette Kando too, and she's got a sense of humour once in a while. I like the way she says "Ba-bye". Voted up!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi Ben,

Just go one step at a time. Sit against a wall, prop yourself up with bolsters and cushions where necessary but stick to practising to use the floor before you become completely chairbound as shown in the video.


bendiamond 4 years ago

It will be a long time before I can sit comfortably on the floor. Just goes to show how civilisation has crippled us. But I am willing to try as I fully understand the points you are making here. Thank you for enlightening me Sue.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hello Jane,

I got the wooden coffee table in a second hand furniture shop and cut the legs to fit so that the table top is at my waist hight when I sit on the floor. It could have been a little deeper (wider) but now I just placed it slightly off the wall to make room for my outstretched legs underneath the table. Watch the video.


Jane Andrews 4 years ago

Hi, I was wondering where you got the coffee table, because this looks like a really good idea.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi jpcmc,

Comfort is synonymous to health. If you are uncomfortable, it means your body is not properly aligned and that is unhealthy. The key words are "habit" and "change". It figures: If you are sitting uncomfortably at your computer for hours on end you are not only damaging your body but also incapacitating your poor brain who has to deal with physical discomfort rather than being allowed to solve your computer challenges unimpaired.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

I always have body pains from the nape down to my lower back after a long period on my work area. It's mainly due to poor posture while working. The info here is really enlightening. The challenge now is getting the right chairs and table not just for comfort but for health as well. I really enjoyed the hub.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hello Jante, You need a space large enough for your (low) desk + room for your supine body to be able to fully circle its limbs on the floor.

Have fun with your experiments,

Sue

PS Watch the two new videos I added recently to this Hub.


Jante 5 years ago

Thanks for the article! I had been thinking of moving to the floor for my small office space next to my bedroom that was made as a laundry room when our house was being but, but my mother decided to have laundry in the basement.

The room is relatively small and I had been thinking of moving to the floor. Your article really opened my eyes and made me realize why I like sitting on the floor so much!

My only problem now is finding a coffee table like yours haha.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi Niiyke, thank you for dropping by, glad you enjoyed it.


Niiyke profile image

Niiyke 5 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

Wow,very insightful and professional,I can relate to everything here.Humorous!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi Earthbeat

You can just place a 2 1/2 cm thick piece of foam cut to size in an ordinary pillowcase and make yourself inexpensive and comfortable mats.


ata 6 years ago

I think you have some great ideas about comfort and productivity. This Hub is a real eye opener. People must have been a lot fitter before the invention of furniture.


Earthbeat 6 years ago

Earthbeat 1 second ago

Thanks so much for this informative article. I'm thinking of converting my living room, a large area with book shelves along the walls, from traditional North American furniture to floor seating, along the lines of Japanese or some mid-east styles. This article has helped me in this.

One thing I want to do is have tatami mats, but so far find they are too expensive. The local JYSK's has some nice bamboo mats, which may be a good alternative. Any suggestions?

Thanks.


Earthbeat 6 years ago

Thanks so much for this informative article. I'm thinking of converting my living room, a large area with book shelves along the walls, from traditional North American furniture to floor seating, along the lines of Japanese or some mid-east styles. This article has helped me in this.

One thing I want to do is have tatami mats, but so far find they are too expensive. The local JYSK's has some nice bamboo mats, which may be a good alternative. Any suggestions?

Thanks.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

Yes prettydarkhorse we often forget about comfort but it does improve productivity.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi Ms. Sue, this is very informative information, I will also share it to my friend who works at home. There is nothing like also when you feel comfortabe specially physically!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

Yes Ben, taking your shoes off is a good start. Read more of my stuff and you'll see how much happier and more productive you can become when your body is more comfortable.


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

There is no way I'm sitting on that big red pillow at my workstation! Looks like good feng shui though! I will come back to reread this again, I was especially drawn to the comment about going shoeless, I always forget. Nice piece of writing Sue!

Cheers,

Ben


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 7 years ago from Andalusia Author

Thank you for your interest and advice Appletreedeals.


Appletreedeals profile image

Appletreedeals 7 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

as you can see I am visiting all your hubs as a result of your forum posting. Like I said: forum participation is a way to get hub traffic, which will raise your hub score which will raise your hubber score. It's all linked and feeds on itself.

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