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How we sit at our desk matters


By Angie Austin, LPTA

Understanding ergonomics will help you better apply it to your daily life and well being. Ergonomics is defined by the dictionary as an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so the people and thinks interact efficiently and safely.

Everything you sit in or lie down on refers to how your body is positioned or your posture. They can include everything from the desk you use, the chair you sit on at work, your car seat, your home sofa or your bed. The goal of ergonomics is to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injuries caused by sudden or prolonged exposure or force, repetitive movements and awkward posture. Musculoskeletal disorders are conditions that affect your body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. MSDs can develop overtime or occur immediately due to overload.

Examples of MSDs:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator coff injuries (affects the shoulder)
  • Epicondylitis (affects the elbow)
  • Trigger finger
  • Muscle strains and neck/lower back injuries

Since ergonomics is mostly associated with the work environment, because that’s where we spend eight or more hours a day, let’s talk about a common work station. A very high percentage of people are required to sit at a desk or computer all day to complete their jobs. Think about the angle of your monitor or the height of your desk. Does you neck, lower back or wrist hurt at the end of the day? Having a good understanding of ergonomics can help reduce or prevent workplace injuries.

Basic Office Ergonomic Tips:

  1. Watch your head position and try to keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support, the neck.
  2. Don’t slouch! Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair if you have one.
  3. The monitor should be placed directly in front of you with the top no higher than eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn you head and neck.
  4. Don’t maintain the same posture or position for extended periods of time. Stand up, walk around or do some light stretches for a few minutes every hour of so.
  5. Your feet should comfortably rest on the floor when you are sitting; your knees should be at or just below hip level.

It’s never too late to address posture! If you struggling with MSDs or pain associated with posture, physical therapy is a great solution. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 and CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you. 


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