Re-design your Workstation to Cure RSI
Ergonomic Comfort at Work
Why sit in 1 position for hours?
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.
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.
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?
Sit on the Floor, on a Mat, to Find your Sitting Bones
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:
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.
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).
Wireless Pen Tablet For Laptop Users
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!
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.
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:
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.
© 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.
More by this Author
With these gentle daily moves and Gravity Inversion, you can improve your posture and ease neck pain away for ever.
The pelvis is the body's center of gravity. Hanging upside down and easy pelvic alignment exercises can help achieve near perfect posture.
Ankle and Wrist weights are popular as shortcuts to training, but what do you need to know for optimum safety and effectiveness?