Ergonomics in your living space

Home. Ergonomics. Most people don’t think of them together. Many have heard of it for the office – trying to keep our desks and bodies in alignment. But ergonomics is part of daily life. At home, in the car, at the office.

Here are some more tips on why ergonomics are important.

You find a home you like. You either move in your old furniture or buy new. But either way, it’s likely you didn’t think about the comfort and safety of your body when you bought it. You thought of design, aesthetics and style. Your body was thinking about pain in your back, shoulders, neck and hips.

If the sofa or bed are too soft, you might have pain in your musculoskeletal system – because most of your body will touch those pieces of furniture.

Too many times you may think that the pains you are feeling are just based on age, or a bad Pilates or yoga move. It’s the bed you climbed out of that morning, not the stretching.

Let’s look at some of the factors that can cause pain and injury.

Firm? Why Firm?

Sofas or chairs that are too soft can cause problems with your back and legs. Try looking for firmer styles. They can be found in a variety of home seating models. Just keep a few spine-friendly rules in mind.

Go for firm. But not as hard as a wooden bench. More like something that feels supportive but has some ‘give’ to it. Firm cushioning will support you over a range of compression points. You also want “furniture that holds you in an upright position, vertically aligning your ears over your shoulders over your hips,” says Dr. David Rempel, a professor of medicine and bioengineering at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. “Resting your back against the back support, you should be able to rest your feet flat on the floor,” he said. 

One of the most important things to remember when purchasing furniture – choose and arrange it according to what you will be using it for most often.

If you are binge-watching television, a supportive chair that reclines to take pressure off your back and neck or a firm sofa that allows full extension of your body in a reclining position might be the ticket, but only if you put the television where you don’t have to turn or crane your neck up or down to see it.

It’s best for avid readers to choose upright chairs that support the lower back, as well as some surface — even just a large pillow — on which to rest their books. Otherwise, you will stress your arms and put strain on your neck and shoulders looking down at the page. Knitters, on the other hand, might want a firm chair with armrests that support their elbows, so they don’t have to slouch or shrug their shoulders while knitting.

If your living space will be where friends gather for lively or intimate conversation, then consider chairs that pivot or arrange the furniture in a circle, so guests don’t have to twist around to face each other.

creating an ergonomic kitchen

Fit-for-Purpose Kitchens

Good ergonomics are more important in the kitchen that possibly any other room in the home. If you create the right space, there will be good flow where every meal is cooked in style and smoothly. If it’s wrong, frustration will set in daily.

Kitchen Work Triangle

Back in the 1940’s a concept came out surrounding the relationship between the stove, fridge and sink, which were arranged as points in an invisible triangle. This was when kitchens were smaller and more closed room ideas.

Kitchens today? So many different configurations to choose from. More appliances and counter space make it impossible to stick to the triangle ideal.

Just keep an unobstructed line of movement and flow between the spaces you use most, and you will be fine.

But keep in mind: to save on sanity and your spine, keep plates and glasses on either side of your dishwasher or behind you if possible. This allows you to empty it with smooth swift movements instead of forcing people to lean over the dishwasher when it’s open and reach up awkwardly to put away clean dishes.

Lighting

Try to keep your lighting bright enough to see what you are doing in the various areas of the kitchen. Task lighting can be set up to ensure safety with slicing items and cooking at the stove.

Strip lighting can also be installed under cabinets to increase the light zones in your kitchen.

using your computer ergonomically

If you are one of millions of Americans who do computer work at home, you need to be aware of how your body is positioned for maximum productivity and safety. As noted in the January 24, 2019 Spinal Blog “How to be Healthier with Office Ergonomics”, posture and proper desk/body position are all-important.

How to sit at a computer sounds simple but can be deceptive.

The desk/computer set up should be similar whether you are at a professional office or at a home office. Follow these office ergonomics tips to help you avoid injury and fatigue:

1)    Make sure that you support the weight of your arms all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will be crying by the end of the day.

2)    Watch your head position and try to keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t ‘crane’ your head and neck forward.

3)    Don’t be a slouch! Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and avoid sitting in a way that places body weight more on one than on the other. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching. Make sure to ‘scoot’ your chair in every time you sit down.

4)    The monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top no higher than eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor, so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck. The keyboard and the mouse should close enough to prevent excessive reaching which strains the shoulders and arms.

5)    Avoid eye strain by making sure that your monitor is not too close, it should be at least an arm’s length away. Take steps to control screen glare, and make sure that the monitor is not placed in front of a window or a bright background. You can rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking at objects at a distance to give your eyes a break.

6) Feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower the keyboard and chair.

**If you use a laptop while watching television, be sure you have back support, leg support and proper lighting.

your body, your friend

In this ergonomic series, you were given some tools showing the various ways you can take care of your body while at the office, in the car, at home and traveling. You can see how just a little furniture and space planning along with correct posture in all circumstances can help you avoid fatigue and injury by taking good care of your musculoskeletal system.

Always get exercise to move your body, take stretch breaks, drink plenty of water, and avoid extended periods of sitting.

Help for your body

To schedule an appointment for treatment with chiropractic, acupuncture or massage, please contact Shimer Chiropractic today at 720-340-4107. Your body will thank you.  

healthy female celebrating pain free

Your body will thank you

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