Ergonomics and Back Pain
Since contemporary society is becoming increasingly technologized, it's no wonder that more and more so-called ‘white collar' workers are seeing health issues, both physical and psychological — all because they are simply sitting down in a chair for too long. Not only do we spend the vast majority of our work days sitting in front of a computer screen, but most of our leisure time is spent in just about the same stance, as we play video games, watch TV, or browse the web.
People with poor posture will unconsciously perpetuate this fault while driving and even during their resting hours. This will dramatically increase several health risks, such as damage to the spine and back pain. Such issues start out as mere nuisances, but can soon develop into more serious problems.
Luckily, however, the science of ergonomics can go a long way in helping combat these issues. By becoming aware of your posture issues and working toward a more ergonomically-friendly environment at home and at work, you, too, can correct these problems before it becomes too late. Here are a few things you can do, in order to make sure that your poor posture doesn't turn into a severe health threat.
- Know your back pain
Bad posture is one of the leading causes of back pain, but it's not the only one. You can tell if your sitting habits are the source of your sore back and neck, if you mostly experience such pains after long days spent working in a chair, yet not after more leisurely and active days, such as at the weekend. Posture-inflicted back pain will start in your neck area and travel down into your upper back, lower back, and limbs. It will also go away in the bat of an eye, if you stand up or shift positions – and, similarly, it can appear suddenly, when you get a new office chair, a new office, or a new car.
- Take time to move
There is a vicious cycle at work, when it comes to back pain and poor posture: to a certain extent, they determine each other. After sitting for a long time, your muscular mass will grow tired, causing you to slouch or slump. In turn, this will shift your body weight to the sensitive areas of the neck and back. In order to prevent such mistakes, stand up, stretch, or take a brief, two-minute walk every other half an hour.
- Buy ergonomically
Ergonomics is not some exotic, new-fangled thing-a-ma-jig. It's been around as part-science, part-design for ages, and has led to the appearance of all sorts of back and posture-friendly objects and devices: from chairs for your office, to footrests, lumbar back support systems which you can carry along with you, lumbar pillows for intensive drivers, ergonomic bags and backpacks, as well as chairs with adjustable backrests, seats, armrest, etc.
Aside from this, it's important to make sure your eyes aren't unnecessarily straining your back. Adjust your PC screen to the position that comes most naturally to you and wear the correct prescription eyeglass lenses, to avoid tilting forward or straining your neck in other ways.
- Use your chair wisely
It's not like modern chair designers are completely unaware of the link between good ergonomics and a healthy back and neck. That's why they're designing office chairs to help users prevent such issues. The right way to use such seating is to keep the body aligned, with your body mass evenly distributed throughout your frame. Have your frontal, dorsal, and lateral body weight aligned as much as possible, and work on maintaining a vertical axis that goes down from your ears, through your shoulders and into your hips at all times – both when sitting, as well as while standing.
Remember that maintaining the same stance for hours on end will take its toll on your body, no matter how healthy the position may be. Rest your back in the chair every now and again, to avoid sitting up straight for too long a time. Also, avoid lack of balance, which is encouraged by such positions as crossed legs, hunching your back, tilting your head, or leaning to the side.