What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements and its cognitive abilities. As more and more research comes out about the silent dangers of sitting, employers and employees are joining the growing trend of utilizing standing desks. At Denver Chiropractic, we treat back pain related to sitting and get asked on a daily basis if the standing desk is the solution to help avoid their back troubles. There is much more to this simple question as the answer is a bit more complicated, so let’s look at some facts related to sitting.

The Dangers of Sitting
American Journal of Epidemiology published a prospective study including over 53,000 men and almost 70,000 women that showed an increase in mortality with the length of time sitting, regardless of independent physical activity. This fact is mind blowing. You can’t Crossfit your way out of the dangers of being a desk jockey. Sit less and live longer should be the title of this study.

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  • Light
Natural – Rays directed towards work space Synthetic – Full Spectrum = Fluorescent
  • Mouse
Elbow close to body, Alternate from left to right hand every other week, Adjustable height platform, Wireless
  • Keyboard
Placement – able to move out of way when not using, Typing – Wrists should be @ neutral, Elbows @ 70 – 135, Adjustable – movable height platform, Wireless
  • Monitor
At arm distance, Flat Screen, High quality, sharp, no glare, Height – eye at top of screen so head is in neutral position or slightly flexed, 17″,multi-monitor, Anti Glare Screen, Last eye check up – Avoid computer vision syndrome (CVS) – frequent eye breaks at least 1 per hour – look at distant object for 20 seconds, Multiple neck saver/document holders – documents same angle to monitor with data transfer, Wall mount – full motion to accommodate different postures
  • Chair
Head rest capability, Adjustable arm rest, Tilt capacity, Swivel, Pelvis should be resting on back rest with pressure on “sits” bones, Lumbar support use to keep spine in neutral position
  • Desk
Position – consider effects of natural lighting, Width of chair slot – chair must be able to slide fully into desk slot Slant – 10 -20 degrees may be useful, Consider standing desk with treadmill underneath or use foam pads on ground to simultaneously work on proprioceptive input and challenge
  • Sitting
Should be Active/Dynamic – Ideal sitting posture is one that continually changes, Static – knees = 90-120, essential to shift position every 10-20 minutes, Break – Do not remain siting longer than 50 minutes – stand and take break, Strengthen shoulder re-tractors every 20 minutes of continuous sitting – squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard as you can, Greater than 10 minutes – will allow biomechanical creep and hysteresis, Use and angled foot rest, Edge of seat at least 2″ between back of knee and edge of seat, Reclined to 100-110 degrees, No lifting heavy objects after prolonged sitting (very very dangerous and bad for your discs)
  • Miscellaneous Objects
Comfortable Distance, Not requiring frequent twisting and reaching (very bad for your discs)
  • Phone
Blue Tooth, Headset, Easy to reach, Do not put phone between ear and hold with shoulder.
  • Breathing/Environment
Add plants – reductions of VOC’s, Wall Art, Family Pictures, Beautify space, Open windows Periodically
  • Ventilation/Noise
Small Fan, Music

What is Ergonomics?

Surprisingly, a study published in the journal Spine showed that intradiscal pressure may be less in an individual that is sitting upright compared to an upright standing posture. The study advises movement to help support the flow of fluid in and out of the disc. This study also looked at a variety of postures and its effects on disc pressures, which all showed increases with flexed postures, regardless of sitting or standing. There is no ideal sitting or standing posture, so one must continually change their postures to help migrate the strains of sitting or standing. The take away with this study is to keep moving!

If you are asking if you should get a standing desk, the answer is yes but also a no. Standing desks can help offset the strains of sitting, but also come with its own problems. Standing engages the back muscles more than sitting and can add pressure to the spine, which is only negated by movement. Sitting can create large forces on the spine as well, which is only negated by movement. A variety of work stations is ideal in the workplace. Reducing the chances of lessening your lifespan from heart disease and decreasing your chances of having back pain all must incorporate movement. Avoiding sedentary postures, whether they are sitting or standing is the key.

Dr. Trent Artichoker of Denver Chiropractic performs individual ergonomic consultations for your workplace. These consultations include an assessment of everything surrounding your workstation, from the positioning of your keyboard, mouse, monitor and phone, to your desk, chair, the way you sit and the environmental factors surrounding your workspace. Contact our office to schedule an individual consultation with Dr. Artichoker or a presentation to inform all of your employees about the importance of ergonomics today.