Ergonomics Tips for Everyday Life
You’ve got the best ergonomic work tools to keep you safe, healthy and comfortable while you work, but have you ever wondered how to protect your posture doing everyday activities? We spoke with our ergonomists about how to prevent discomfort, injury and musculoskeletal disorders in daily life.
Though makes and models of cars may vary, play around with your car seat adjustability as much as possible. Ensure you can reach the pedals comfortably while still reclining to keep your spine healthy. If your car seat lacks lumbar support, invest in a small lumbar roll or try a rolled up hand towel that you can position in the curve of your lower back for more support. If your steering wheel is adjustable, position it at a comfortable height so you’re not overusing the muscles in your arms, and remember to take a break and stretch every hour on long trips.
At the Movies
Most movie theatres have seats that are designed for you to recline in. Try to avoid sitting too close to the front and focus on sitting toward the middle of the theater, not the sides, to protect your neck, but otherwise, sit back and relax in your chair with your feet comfortably on the floor–not on the seat in front you, as this can irritate your fellow movie-goers.
On Public Transport
We don’t always get to choose whether we sit or stand on public transit, but there are healthy strategies you can employ on long commutes to keep you comfortable. If you are seated, ensure that the seat pan isn’t hitting the back of your knees, which can impinge circulation. If you’re standing and holding onto a pole, keep your elbow close to your hip to strengthen your grip. And, if you must work on your smartphone while traveling, don’t hunch over or clutch it too tightly. Try a case that allows you to slip your hand in the back, and use a stylus to save your fingers.
On a Plane
Working on flights is increasingly common, so when you’re on a plane, consider the task. If you’re emailing or typing, place the laptop in your lap. This will minimize the strain on your fingers and upper body. Investing in an external travel keyboard will automatically separate where you type and view and will save you from the “laptop hunch.” If you’re watching a movie on your laptop or tablet, use some magazines to raise the device high enough to keep your neck comfortable. Also, don’t forget to incorporate as much movement as you can into your flight. Keep your circulation up by stretching and walking around the cabin.
Shoveling snow can be tough on the body, especially the arms and shoulders. The solution? Try an ergonomic snow shovel, which features a curved handle to alter the direction you apply force so that shoveling is more comfortable. Don’t forget to try to lift with your legs, not your back, limit the amount of heavy lifting you do, and keep your loads low to the ground and as close to your body as possible.
Working On a Laptop or Tablet at Home
Aside from investing in an external keyboard or mouse to ensure you can control the position of your hands and eyes (remember: they drive your posture), our ergonomists have a few tips to stay healthy. First, try working on the couch, where you can mimic a healthy posture by reclining, propping your legs up and placing the laptop or tablet on your thighs. And, when you’re using your laptop at your desk, try raising your screen up with a laptop stand or a pile of books to keep your neck comfortable.
Using Hand Tools
Anyone who has had to put together Ikea furniture will attest to the fact that your hands get tired very quickly. From screwdrivers to wrenches, more tools on the market these days are designed to better fit the body, with features like ball handles to reduce bending your wrist when you twist, or softer and wider grips to take pressure off points in your hand. Consider the grip and diameter of the tools you choose and, remember, just because something is labeled as “ergonomic” doesn’t mean it truly is.
In the Kitchen
If you love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, put an anti-fatigue mat in front of your prep area to take pressure off your lower joints while you’re creating a culinary masterpiece. Also, there are good brands of kitchen tools out there that have wide, soft handles and ergonomic features that make repetitive tasks easier, such as the line from OXO Good Grips.
We hope these tips help you to live more comfortably!