Another year rolls on, and the ongoing pandemic has forced the hands of many a company (and its employees) to adopt a work-from-home lifestyle for a bit longer just to keep the wheels turning and the stoves burning.
For some, it’s been a dream come true; working in your pajamas and making the daily commute from the bedroom to the laptop, while others long for those interactions with their colleagues and un-woke supervisors.
While the work-life balance has taken a beating like a scrambled egg no thanks to the coronavirus, it pays to make sure you have the right work gear to keep that kitchen-cum-office ticking along until the lockdown has been lifted.
The same can be said for those unfortunate souls who are forced to be present at the office every single day of the week (except weekends, of course), pandemic be damned.
Needless to say, even before the earth stood still (kinda), we weren’t doing any better. According to ACA Today, one-half of all working Americans admitted to experiencing back pain, and back pain accounting for around 264 million lost workdays in a single year.
So clearly, we (and our backs) deserve better. And it’s not just about keeping our backs straight either; carpel tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, fatigue, even chronic colds and flu, and deteriorating mental health have all been linked to bad posture and unsafe or uncomfortable furniture at the workplace.
Keeping that in mind, here, we are going to discuss the importance of an ergonomic setup for avoiding back pain at work.
1. Ergonomic Office Products are Priceless
Having a clean cubicle at the office or clearing a nice spot in the kitchen for your home office is all fine and dandy, but with more and more folks forced to work remotely, albeit not with a reduced intensity, it pays to have a functional space for your daily grind.
2. Have a Seat
According to a survey that was commissioned by Ergotron, the average American spends around 13 hours a day in the sitting position (and this was pre-coronavirus, when bars and parks were open).
Fast-forward to the post-pandemic, WFH world we live in, and it’s safe to say that those hours are piling up. Staying sedentary for prolonged periods has been linked to every nasty medical condition in the book, from obesity and bad cholesterol to diabetes, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease.
So that settles it, sitting down for long hours every day is likely going to kill you sooner – great. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what you can do about it.
In case you haven’t had time to notice that lower back pain already, we’re here to tell you that an upgrade is in order.
Just because you’re not chained to that swivel chair at work does not mean your back is in good company. Take a look in the mirror – that s-shaped slouch of the desk posture is probably visible even if you’ve been working from your kitchen for the past year. If the answer is yes, with 4.7 million Americans jumping on the WFH bandwagon, you’re not alone.
There’s a reason why back pain surgery costs Americans around $50 billion each year, and the culprit – well, you’re sitting on it.
One of the most important components of any workplace is the office chair. Find the right one that offers functionality and makes you look good in the process, and you’re golden. But with a plethora of options that are available online, that can be easier said than done.
While we’ve already determined that sitting can be quite unhealthy, the least we can do is find the right chair (no, the kitchen chair and barstool won’t do); Doing this alone can easily lead to fewer back problems and circulation issues. The point is, investing in an ergonomic chair is going to save you a lot of time, pain and money down the road.
Picking one with height adjustment will make sure your shoulders stay relaxed, and will also keep your elbows at the recommended 90-degree angle while you forward this article to your friends. Choosing an office chair with a reclining function won’t hurt either. If you don’t want to mess with the groovy home-office vibe you’ve created with an ugly office chair, you don’t have to.
There’s an array of manufacturers that offer ergonomic office chairs while not forgetting to keep things classy. With so many great options available in office chairs, it’s time you let the man in the mirror try one out for size.
With office chairs coming in multiple sizes, designs and features, you can choose one that does the adapting for you, and not the other way around.
3. Take a Stand
Even if you’re a stand-up kind of guy (or gal), chances are, your health certainly doesn’t think so, especially if you’ve been spending all day sitting in front of your computer. More and more research is revealing the benefits of standing more often while on the job.
For the woke crowd out there, no need to prop up your laptop on a stack of magazines or empty pizza boxes because that’s what a stand-up desk is for. While many think of a stand-up desk as a space-agey device you’d find on the Starship Enterprise, many employees admit that making the transition from sitting to the standing position (and vice versa) throughout the day is far healthier than just remaining seated for the entire 8.5-hour grind.
According to research, those who have used a stand-up desk experienced a profound impact on their posture, productivity and reported little to no lower back pain. As if that wasn’t enough, using a stand-up desk allows you to burn 20% more calories as compared to sitting. It also increases muscle activity that reduces strain on the lower back due to prolonged sitting.
The 3-stage Standing Desk is easy to set up and configure for your comfort, whether you’re at home or the office. So, there’s no need to maintain the sitting position while you’re getting work done or loafing around the internet when you can kick your shoulders back and assume that wide-legged stance like the boss you are.
4. The Role of Anti-Fatigue Matting in Ergonomics
According to research, employees are happiest and can do their best work when they are in what is known as a “flow state.” This is a period where the individual is hyper-focused on the task at hand to such an extent that the work feels easy, despite the nagging boss. However, that focus can be easily broken once you feel those calves and thigh muscles burning because you’ve been standing too long.
Don’t get us wrong. Stand-up desks are the future, but who said you had to stay standing? Everybody’s different; while some folks are able to use the stand-up desk for hours before needing to sit down, for others, all it takes is a few minutes on their feet to feel the burn. That’s okay, too, because there’s something you can do about it. Enter the anti-fatigue floor mat.
You can easily counter the strain of the tiles or concrete flooring by using specially designed, anti-fatigue floor mats, which are pretty much self-explanatory. These floor mats help improve lower leg circulation that keeps fatigue and discomfort at bay. Not sold yet? There’s more.
Anti-fatigue mats are not there for balance. In fact, it’s the opposite. By not giving you that perfect balance, the muscles in the feet and calves keep contracting. This constant motion is what keeps the blood pumping in the heart and veins, which is quite similar to running. As a result, this helps improve circulation and counteracts fatigue that one feels when they haven’t moved their legs for a prolonged period.
Additionally, the anti-slip characteristics of these mats, along with the beveled edges, help to reduce the risk of slipping or tripping while on the job. In short, continuous movement is key to staying comfortable and healthy while on the job, which is something you should not take sitting down.
Here’s another tip to roll off with – plants. Yes. Even a plant (or two) helps by letting you reconnect with nature. Considering we’ve been spending more of our time indoors and away from nature, that helps.
We get it. That’s a lot to think about. Luckily for you, we’ve done the thinking for you, so you don’t have to put your grey matter under too much stress. Turns out, investing in ergonomic office furniture and products can help a great deal in keeping you relaxed and fit, whether you are working from the office cubicle or at home in your pajamas.
The best part is, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to get the setup to avoid back pain at work since they are all available online. No overtime required.