Ergonomics is an entirely made-up term, and yet, maybe more than any different theory, it has made an enormous impact on the manner in which we work and, accordingly, the manner in which that our workplaces and the furnishing in them are designed.
The term ergonomics is from the Greek ergos (work) and nomos (natural laws), thus, it’s the concept of applying the natural laws of physics to the fabrication of the places we work.
The reason for this is that every year over five million individuals contract some kind of RSI. Much of this is due to hyper-extension as a result of poor posture, or due to an action being carried out repeatedly in a posture that the body does not operate comfortably in.
So, how does ergonomics work? It works by identifying postures that our bodies find themselves in as a result of the professional surroundings, and modifying these to guarantee that the postures place as little stress on the body as they can.
The most familiar examples are ergonomically planned seating. When people are positioned with their lower body and their spine at right angles to each other a great deal of stress is placed on the lumbar region – the bottom five vertebrae. With all this weight pressing down on this area, it’s common for individuals to endure chronic lower back pain.
The solution is to move the angle of the lower body to the upper body from ninety degrees to a much wider 120 degrees. Chairs designed like this often feel as if they’re tilted forwards slightly and by backrests that slope back. Unfortunately, this can result in people being required to lean forwards or overextend so that they can get to the desk.
So, ergonomically designed chairs look to fix this failing with alternative supports and angles.
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Another method is kneeling seats, in which the torso remains vertical whilst the legs are tilted down have become popular and are rather more comfortable and put our lower backs at less risk.
Although some write off ergonomics as unnecessary, for individuals who have suffered RSI it is often the sole method by which they can get back to work. So, whether you’re an employer on an employee, it’s worth considering ergonomic seats at the very least, and if you do, check out a good office furniture seller like Herman Miller.
If your office chair currently is causing back discomfort and after implementing some of the techniques above, perhaps your chair could do with additional back support. These back support cushions/padding have been known to change peoples working lives in the office.