Stretching and ergonomics at work
We can sit for over eight hours at our desk. To keep yourself healthy and safe at your desk (and reduce the likelihood of injury) follow these guidelines.
Is my workstation set up correctly?
In an office job you're likely to spend hours at a desk each week so it's important to make sure you get yourself into good habits. Your workstation should be comfortable but also right for your posture. Here are a few basic features of the ideal workstation:
- The right chair: Your chair should be at a height that means your elbows are at 90° and your wrists are straight when you type. It should support your back at an angle of 90°-100° and allow your hips and knees to sit parallel to the floor. It should be comfy but not too cushy - you don't want to slouch into it.
- An organised desk: Keep everything that you need on your desk within arm's reach so you don't have to move around and strain your neck and back. This means keeping all the essentials like your telephone, coffee mug and pens nice and close and the rest of your desk uncluttered.
- The right computer: Your computer screen should be about an arm's length away and at eye level allowing you to focus easily. Consider getting a remote keyboard and mouse if you use a laptop regularly - otherwise, the screen will be too low or the keyboard will be too high and you'll find yourself with a sore neck.
- Comfortable lighting: Make sure the office lighting is easy on your eyes and adjust the brightness on your computer screen to make sure your eyes don't feel strained after a few hours.
Are my team mates working safely?
Being safe around the office is a team effort. It isn't an especially dangerous place to be and keeping a clean and well-lit workspace can prevent most problems. The main issue for office-workers is overuse injuries which are largely preventable by ensuring you follow the workstation tips above. Everyone should be taking regular breaks and making sure they get up and walk around, not just surfing the net during lunch.
Do I need to stretch at work?
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is quite an unnatural way to exist so it's important that you get up every half-hour or so and move about for a few minutes. Numerous studies have revealed the great benefits that a few stretches and a walk around the office can do for you.
Do I need some water?
We all know the benefits of water - it keeps us hydrated, maintains our blood pressure, keeps our digestive system working and generally keeps our body functioning at its best. Most mature adults lose about 2.5-3 litres of water per day which can increase in hot weather or a dry air-conditioned office.
During the day you'll replace about a litre or so in the food you eat but you need to replace the rest by drinking water. Make it a habit to get up and grab a glass of water (instead of a soft drink) every now and then and your body will thank you! Learn more about how to make water your drink of choice.