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The importance of ergonomics goes beyond sitting in a comfortable chair. If your keyboard seems like an extension of your hands — or if you spend a lot of time updating your website, balancing the books, and engaging with your supporters online — you’ll want to keep stiff or achy joints at bay.
Anyone who sits at a desk for hours a week can benefit from proper body mechanics, the right office arrangement, and some tips for staying pain-free.
Can the right chair make a difference to how you feel at the end of a day? Absolutely. As bloggers and business moguls, we typically spend several hours a week on our derrières, but a great chair provides more than comfort for your bottom.
The Mayo Clinic says that the right desk chair aligns with your spine’s curves and allows you to put your feet flat on the floor — use a footrest, if needed. A suitable office chair also has adjustable armrests that you can lower far enough for your shoulders to relax.
Chances are, we’re all guilty of a poor-posture habit or two, whether it’s slouching, leg-crossing, or elbow-leaning. Mark Middlesworth, an expert in workplace injury prevention and founder of ErgoPlus, stresses the importance of keeping your body’s most-used parts — wrists, arms, spine — in neutral positions, rather than awkwardly bent. So, sit up straight and do the following:
Slide your hips to the back of your chair.
Position your seat, so that you’re about an arm’s length from your monitor.
Lower your chair or raise your monitor (maybe place it on a stack of books) until the screen is eye-level, reducing neck strain.
Type with your arms at about 90-degree angles to your body.
Remind yourself throughout the day to relax your shoulders and neck, and to keep your wrists straight.
If your hands spend hours a week galloping across a keyboard, the importance of ergonomics eventually becomes evident, as stiffness tends to set in. Do your workhorse hands a few favors:
Keep your arms close to your body while using your keyboard.
Switch your mouse from the right to the left side of your keyboard a few times each day to give your dominant hand a break.
Remove your hand from your mouse while reading — the less time it spends needlessly hovering over the mouse, the less cramped it may get.
Consider using a dictation program, such as the free Google Voice Typing tool available with Google Docs, to cut down on typing.
Stretch your hands, wiggle your fingers, and take breaks from your keyboard, as needed.
Standing while you work can reduce injuries, health issues, and comfort problems caused by sitting for long periods. If you’re not ready to spend any amount of money on a manually adjustable or hydraulically operated desk, you don’t have to. Place your laptop or monitor on a counter, a stack of books, or sturdy, upturned box to raise it to a comfortable height. Do the same with your keyboard and mouse.
Note: You shouldn’t sit or stand all day; switching up your position (say, hourly) and moving around reduces strain on your musculoskeletal system, explains Middlesworth.
Walking, climbing stairs, stretching, or fitting virtually any other type of movement into your day not only engages your muscles, including your heart, but helps you avoid burnout, increases your energy level, and improves your mood. With a revved-up outlook, you’re able to do your best when you get back to work — or back to everyday life, apart from your blog or business.
Now that you understand the importance of ergonomics to your health (and, in turn, to your venture) why not develop a web design mood board to amplify the feel-good energy your guests experience when they visit your site?
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