In the last two installments of the 12 days of ergonomics, we’ve measured, sat, stood and hacked our way to ergonomic success — all with the goal of keeping you healthy and productive throughout the holiday season and into the new year. After all, carpal tunnel syndrome and other office health injuries are the biggest Scrooge of them all, and we think you deserve better! In our last installment of the 12 Days of Ergonomics, we’re giving you our final gifts of holiday health. Let’s get to it!
Day 9: Stretch
Whether you’re working from the office, a plane or the car, one of the best ways to keep your body feeling good and your brain on task is to get up and stretch that body. Doing so will get your blood moving and your muscles working in a new way, which will help lower your risk of developing a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
The palms press stretch, wrist flexor stretch and wrist extensor stretch (available here) are all great for your wrists, while head tilts, neck rotations and the arm-in-front shoulder stretches are all good for your shoulders, neck and upper arms (available here).
Lunges are great for your legs and for your heart if you’ve got the space for them. If not, we highly recommend this car workout for moving your legs, exercising your abs, stretching your spine and just generally relieving tension.
Day 10: Listen and Use Your Voice
Even the best typists would do well to rest those fingers once in awhile. Instead of scrambling to capture everything that’s said in a meeting, simply use the recorder on your laptop or smartphone and store the recording in a program like Evernote for easy retrieval later on. And when you’re simply brainstorming ideas, why not use voice recognition software to convert your thoughts into written words? Programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking now do an excellent job of capturing speech accurately. Sure, you may have to bullet your points as you desire, but if it makes for less typing, your wrists, hands and back will thank you.
Day 11: Get Your Bosses On Board
Ergonomics is as good for you as it is for your company’s bottom line. Healthy individuals, after all, take fewer sick days, are less distracted at work (because they’re not focusing on their pain) and need fewer costly surgeries on the company health plan. Those are a lot of good reasons for your bosses to get on board with an ergonomics policy — something that just so happens to be crucial to the success of an ergonomics program, which can’t work well unless it’s got buy-in from the top.
To really do ergonomics right, go to your bosses with a full plan for implementation. This should include ways to identify risk factors, employee behavioral training with excellent ergonomists, and budgeting for new ergonomic products for the office. Even better, come armed with a full evaluation of how much money the company will save in the long term by investing upfront in preventative care.
Day 12: Get Your “Mobile Ergonomics” On
If you’re like most of today’s workers, you spend just as much time working from a plane or hotel room as you do from an office. Doing so has become more and more convenient thanks to tablets and smartphones with full data capabilities. But what most mobile devices boast in convenience and portability they sacrifice in ergonomic best practices. Tiny keyboards put undue stress on fingers and joints, and flat, attached screens will force either your wrists or your neck into less than ideal positions. Add to that a lack of tactile feedback, and many users tap their keyboards with far more force than is healthy.
If you want to work well from the road, it’s time to embrace the tenets of mobile ergonomics, which demands that our mobile devices be portable, adjustable, compatible and trustworthy (PACT, for short). With a lightweight split keyboard, tablet and laptop stand and an on-the-go ergonomic mouse, you can easily hack any space into a mobile work station. And if the products are lightweight, there’s no reason they can’t go with you wherever you go.
From Day 1 to Day 12, we’ve taken you through your very own plan for finding ergonomic health. What will your first step be? Let us know in the comments below!