Ergonomic health – what’s it all about?

We are all business people, working hard! Some of us may find ourselves sitting in front of the computer for many hours during the day (like you are now, perhaps). So I thought I would share a few simple ergonomic exercises with you to help stretch your limbs, eyes, ears and other areas of your body. Sit up and get ready for some action with these great ergonomic tips!

Your Posture!

Ensure your chair and desk are the correct height so your eyes are level with or slightly above your screen and your knees are slightly lower than your hips. Feet flat on the floor (My hairdresser always instructs me to uncross my legs –> bad posture = bad haircut). Your wrists should rest easily on the surface where your mouse is sitting. Keep your shoulders and back relaxed down (not hunched up)

Ergonomic Posture Exercises:

  • With your arms bent, lean back and stretch your arms and shoulders back also. Then open out your arms for a full stretch
  • Twist you body while seated, to the left and to the right
  • Twist your neck left and right, then up and down
  • Lean your head towards your left and right shoulders (NEVER do a full circle, this causes stress on the neck)
  • A walk at lunch time if even just 10 mins will help stretch out the spine (it can shrink up to 4cms a day as our spinal discs compress throughout the day)
  • If at home, lie on your back, on a carpet or mat, and pull your knees to your chest. This will also stretch the spine
  • Take up a stretching pastime such as yoga if you are a regular laptop user (esp the Sun Salutation will get you set for the day)

Your eye balls!

Eye muscles strain to point the eyes at close distances, such as a computer screen (not so much a TV as it is generally distant)

Ergonomic Eye Exercises:

  • Every few minutes focus your gaze at the most distant object available (light switch on opposite wall) for 5-10 seconds
  • If you have a window, glaze off to the distance. Focusing at a distant object actually physically exercises the components of the eye and helps them relax
  • Roll your eye balls in their sockets, changing direction frequently, blinking between each round (don’t try this if you are interacting with someone)
  • Close your eyes tightly for 3-5 seconds, open for same and repeat a few times
  • Look at the wall opposite you and use you eyes to write out your name on the wall (this is fun to do)

Your ears!

If you use earphones a lot for listening to music / pod casts or conference calling, your ears can become overwhelmed. It is generally accepted that continuous exposure to loud sounds deteriorates the hearing, but further studies have shown that intermittent loud bangs cause more damage

Ergonomic Ear Exercises:

  • Rub your temple with your fingers. This will also benefit the eyes and head
  • Purposely listen to low volume podcast / music to strain the ears a little
  • Leave off the ear-phones when not necessary
  • Avoid loud bangs or unexpected loud noises

Your wrists!

The most common area to suffer from repetitive strain injury (RSI) are your poor wrists. The most common culprit believe it or not are the little “jacks” that raise the back of your keyboard as such an angle that your wrists are bent backwards more than they should be!

Your hands should be hovering as you type (some users will be used to this from laptops) and should never rest on the surface that the laptop / PC is on.

Ergonomic Wrist Exercises:

  • Flatten your keyboard for starters
  • Raise your seat or lower your typing level so your wrists are not inclined to sit on the bench/table
  • While doing your eye ball exercises, rotate your wrists and hinge them up and down
  • Make fists and open out the hands quickly
  • Intertwine your fingers, push your arms out in front – this will help stretch the upper torso also

Your Joints!

Joints loose lubrication, so take 2 mins out and start by curling only your fingers, after about 10 seconds include movement of the wrists, then include movement of the elbows and finally the shoulders (it’s really cool the shapes and cracking noises you can make.)

I know some of you are already aware of some or all of these simple techniques, and I know that you have been trying out a few as you read the post, so my job here is done!

This is by no means a definitive list – you can add as you develop your own “Anti-Stiffness” strategy. I feel better already, how about you?