Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Use These Office Life Hacks for A More Comfortable Work Day

Few folks realize that office-related pain is a very widespread problem. Back pain, sore necks, aching wrists and joints - it's often due to those long, stagnant days at the office. Unfortunately, sometimes those problems can develop into something serious down the road, but don't worry. We've got all the latest tips and tricks to help keep you comfortable and relaxed all day long. Adjust those monitors and swivel those chairs! Today's article is chock-full of life hacks for a more comfortable work day!

Stay Eye Level with Your Computer

We've touched on this one before in previous articles, but the importance of this little trick never gets old. An improperly placed computer screen can cause all kinds of ailments for the regular office computer user. Headaches, migraines, upper back pain, neck pain, sore muscles, and eye strain can all result from constantly having to tilt or twist to see a computer screen. Investing in an ergonomic monitor arm that adjust is one of the best ways to combat this. These devices can mount to walls or desks, where they hold one or more computer screens upright on adjustable arms.

Make sure the top of your computer screen is no lower than your eye level is looking straight ahead, sitting upright. About 1 and 1/2 to 2 feet is the standard distance for healthy viewing of your computer screen. Don't forget to take frequent breaks, looking at something else, to keep your eyes from working too hard.

Adjust Your Office Chair

Almost all office chairs offer some form of ergonomic capabilities nowadays, and chances are, yours probably does too. Even the most affordable ergonomic mesh chairs usually have tilt tension controls and height adjustment features if nothing else, both of which are important to a healthy office lifestyle. Traditionally, a good chair is properly adjusted when a user can sit upright, with the back in it's most natural resting state (not slouching), elbows and knees bent at right angles, with feet flat on the floor.

Take the time to sit down, assess your needs, and adjust your office chair accordingly. Good features to check for are tilt tension control (or tension adjustment), seat height, seat depth, tilt locks, adjustable arms, and adjustable lumbar support. Some ergonomic seats have more detailed features than others. We recommend looking up the make and model of your chair online and reading up on all the things it can do.

* For quick fixes, here's some good guesses at where to find adjustable features on most chairs:

Tilt tension/ tension adjustment = Usually on the side of the chair, often under the seat as a knob; this adjusts the resistance the chair's back gives when you lean back into it.

Tilt Locks = A switch or lever will lock the chair's tilt range in place. Usually the lock is next to where the tilt tension adjustment is.

Seat height = Most commonly, a lever on the side of the chair, just under the seat.

Seat depth = Not all chairs offer this, but those that do have varied spots for adjustment. A backrest slide typically has a knob on the back of the seat where the backrest attaches. A seat slide will have a knob under the seat on one of the sides, or a lever in front.

Adjustable arms = Can be adjusted with levers or knobs on the arms, but most common, adjustment is manually done by gently pulling on the armrests.

Adjustable Lumbar = May be a manual adjustment or a slide-able one typically on back of chair. Some lumbar chairs are adjusted by a squeezable air pump attached under the chair's seat.

Let There Be (Correct) Lighting

Ironically, computer related eye strain is most commonly caused either by too much or too little ambient lighting, not usually by the computer itself. Of course, if the computer screen itself is too bright, problems may also present themselves that way. The most important thing to know is that human eyes are only evolved to take in so much light at once. Overloading those limits can cause the eye pain many of us are all too familiar with.

Some tricks to battling eye strain are to take note of your surroundings. If your office has big fluorescent lights, see if the boss will let you turn a few of them off. If not, go into your computer's settings. Most have an adjustable brightness option where you can lower the brightness of the screen. If you can't find it, engaging the computer's energy saving mode may lower brightness in order to save power.

If eye strain is a problem at home or in your personal office, another good trick is to invest in personal desk lamps rather than keeping the bigger lights on. Small lamps provide better ambient lighting for computer use because they keep users awake while not emitting too much light. Work still gets done, and pain is a thing of the past!

Stretch and Deskercise

Here's a comfortable office life hack that doesn't have to cost you a thing. If you suffer from tight muscles or back pain at the office, sometimes the best thing to do is to stretch out! Ever since the working world has become more sedentary, health nuts everywhere have been developing stretches and exercises for office workers to stay in shape. Look up a few good "deskercises" on Google to do during break. Taking a short 3 minute break every half hour or so will allow you to perform some refreshing office chair stretches to limber up.

For the pros, companies like Eurotech have actually come out with zen-inducing chairs to help with deskercises. Chairs like the ergonomic Chakra chair offer light and airy support without putting stress on the body. Although the one here is the Chakra-Pink-Gray, the chairs are offered in five colors. They're perfect for health nuts, athletes, yoga fans, and anyone in need of a calmer work day!

Lumbar Support

Unfortunately, not every chair provides sufficient lumbar support - even the expensive ones. However, it is super important to keep your back as much in it's natural S-shape as possible. The spine is healthiest in the standing position, which is often why doctors stress the importance of proper posture. Standing desks and affordable kneeling chairs improve health by keeping the back as naturally curved as possible. But, for those that don't want to practice an entirely different work style (and don't want to spring for a height adjustable desk) ensuring lumbar support is the next best thing. Check to see if your chair has a feature for lumbar, and if not, pick one that does when next you shop. Another good trick is to bring a simple pillow or rolled-up sweater to place behind your lower back. Your body will thank you later!
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