Many people working at traditional and non-traditional workstations experience neck, shoulder and upper back discomfort. There are some simple solutions to alleviating many of the risk factors that contribute to it.
When your arm leaves your side in any direction you begin to load your upper body. Reaching for prolonged periods of time or lifting/carrying items (especially held out away from the body) can cause undue stress and strain to the body. Watching how far you reach out for daily items, such as your mouse, keyboard, books, phones, etc… and moving those items and yourself closer to the edge of the work surface can alleviate many of those symptoms.
Is your keyboard and mouse at the edge of your work surface or pushed back towards your monitor? Are you sitting too far away from the edge of your work surface or other items you’re working with? If you are reaching out to access them, you need to move those items or yourself closer to them.
If you are right handed, are writing utensils or other commonly used items on left or right side of your working area? Reaching across your body takes you out of a neutral posture and position and also puts undue strain on the mid and upper body. This can be corrected by placing items you readily use/access on the side of the body you reach for them.
The basic principle behind ergonomics is the environment adapts to you, not the other way around. So, take a look at your workspace. Can items be moved to keep you in a more neutral posture and position? Are you over reaching for items needed in your daily activities? With a few simple changes, you can reduce the unnecessary strain and load on your shoulders, neck and back.
For more information on office and industrial ergonomics, products and furniture, you will find additional articles on the JR Ergonomics Blog.
If you would like more information on setting up your workstation, choosing the right chair or have other ergonomic questions or concerns, feel free to contact me via email or phone. Jennifer Rappaport, MOTR/L, CPE • 503-380-5550 • firstname.lastname@example.org