Ergonomics is one of those realities of life that often isn’t known until someone starts noticing they have back pain, neck pain, or carpal tunnel syndrome. They have an aversion to going to work – and it’s no wonder because the office furniture is contributing to the problems!
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. The whole field of ergonomics began in the U.S. in 1957 only as a result of a few previous decades of workers getting hurt on the job from the way their body was supposed to stand or sit for hours at a time.
Because computers didn’t really become popular until the 1980s, it has taken quite a while for innovative companies to create solutions for the workplace that fit today’s society. However, now it is well known that the human body has certain specific requirements for sitting and standing at the workplace and if they aren’t met, pain, loss of productivity, and even lawsuits against the business could occur.
With this in mind, it pays to expand your thinking of how you can help your employees meet the requirements needed to decrease any on-the-job problems resulting from their posture at the current desks they have.
What are the Top Ergonomic Accessories?
Below is a list of seven ergonomic accessories that will truly put your employees in that highly productive mode that occurs when their posture is 100% ergonomically correct.
- Ergonomic back pillows
- Ergonomic seat cushions
- Ergonomic adjustable keyboards and trays
- Laptop holders
- Tech trays
- Ergonomic footrests
- Ergonomic mouse
Let’s look at each one of these ergonomic devices closely.
1. Ergonomic Back Pillows
Sitting on a chair isn’t the same if you are using regular pillows and cushions versus orthopedic or ergonomic pillows and cushions.
Ergonomic back pillows come in many different shapes but most are thick and durable and made from memory foam. They should fit your body comfortably. Support is the name of the game for an ergonomic back pillow.
These pillows may also have adjustable straps to keep the pillow ‘glued’ to your chair. They support your posture and are designed to relieve pain in the upper, mid, and lower back as well as help you maintain the natural curves of your spine.
2. Ergonomic Seat Cushions
If your tailbone (coccyx) is tucked under your body, you are sitting on it. This can cause pressure on the lower part of your spine. With an ergonomic cushion, your tailbone is raised, removing all the pressure. This prevents back pain and numbness in the buttocks that can occur from sitting.
Another feature of ergonomic seat cushions is that they are wedge-shaped. This is for the purpose of tilting your pelvis forward, thus restoring the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.
Keep in mind, with regards to the two points above. Even the best chair in the market is not a perfect fit for ALL body types, therefore, some extra support may be needed, to match it to your body.
3. Ergonomic Adjustable Keyboards and Trays
An ergonomic keyboard will go far in benefits for your employees (or yourself). The wrong keyboard can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, leaving the employee with the inability to comb his or her hair, shampoo, dress oneself, eat, drive and perform other activities of daily living.
The wrong keyboard may also contribute to neck and back pain as well as trigger points within the muscles. However, there have not been any long-term studies on the use of ergonomic adjustable keyboards so far.
Two trials involving 105 people compared ergonomic keyboards versus control and showed equal results for pain and function, according to a study on non-surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome published in 2003.
The jury is still out for whether or not ergonomic keyboards work, but one thing is certain – the theory still makes sense. If you put your hand in a position that impinges on the nerves of the wrist and continue the movement repetitively, as what might happen with a non-ergonomic keyboard, you might develop problems.
An ergonomic keyboard may have been created after 2003 with further developments in the field of ergonomics and is one that has shown benefits but the study isn’t published yet. Created properly, it should optimize your typing comfort.
Nevertheless, an ergonomic keyboard tray is usually tilted in a negative tilt so that wrist flexion doesn’t occur. The standard tilt is a 15-degree negative tilt up to a 10-degree positive tilt.
4. Laptop Holders
Laptop holders are more important than most people think. While you are using your laptop, you don’t realize what is happening to your posture. Your head and neck move forward, followed by the loss of the natural curvature of the cervical and upper thoracic spine. It doesn’t take that long for you to start developing neck and upper back pain and the need for chiropractic treatments and massage to work out the knots within your muscles.
The secret to alleviating this situation is to put the monitor at a height where your neck and head will naturally fall back into their proper position. That’s where the laptop holders come into place. Usually, made of light metal, laptop holders raise not only the screen to a higher and better position but also the keyboard. Raising the keyboard is good for two reasons. First, it puts your wrist and forearms in a more natural position, and secondly, it eliminates the possibility that the electromagnetic field from the computer is sending out rays directly into your groin area.
Laptop holders also have heat ventilation built into them to divert heat from the computer.
5. Tech Trays
Tech trays may also be added to the top surface of a desk to accommodate a laptop, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone. It pulls out from the desk, leaving the top of the desk clear for spreading out your important documents related to the work you are doing. The tech tray is pushed into the desk at the end of the day of work, protecting your hardware.
6. Ergonomic Footrests
Many companies that really care about employee productivity focus on getting the desk right but neglect what’s happening with the employee’s feet. An ergonomic footrest makes a big difference. They support the feet and give comfort to the leg, ensuring good circulation throughout the legs and lower part of the body. A footrest is especially important when someone is short in stature and their legs won’t reach the floor and rest in a flat position. The footrest keeps the employee’s posture in an upright position during sitting.
An ergonomic footrest relieves all strains on the spine from sitting and prevents slouching. When you use a footrest, it increases the contact of your back with the chair’s back supports. You are able to recline more. Reclining relieves excess electrical activity found in the back muscles.
7. Ergonomic Mouse
You can tell a computer mouse is ergonomic by looking at it but it’s the actual placement of your hand on the mouse that confirms this. If you rest your hand on a desk, your palm will naturally curl as if it is getting ready to grasp something with your fingers. Your knuckles are placed in the highest point and your hand feels relaxed.
The natural arch of the bones in your hand is about 30 degrees. This position alleviates any strain on your wrist. Thus, when a computer mouse is built for comfort and productivity, it will have this 30-degree tilt. When your hand is placed on the mouse, it will glide over the mouse pad, preventing your hand from contacting the work surface.
Some ergonomic mouse designs include scrolling that has been ergonomically matched to the design of the human hand as well. Most are also wireless to avoid frustration from excess wires on the desk.
Making your office completely focused on work productivity always includes ergonomics and some of the latest advancements. For the best ergonomic chair to go along with any of the above ergonomic accessories, check out the Acharya chair. It goes beyond the regular ergonomic chair concept and includes a higher degree of wellness.