Learning Ergonomics: 10 Ways to Keep Work from Becoming a Pain in the Neck…Literally.


Today’s workplace has become pretty intense. As organizations search for increased efficiencies, employees are working harder, and for longer hours. It can be a heads-down environment, where you’re sitting in front of a keyboard or screen working on spreadsheets or analyzing data, or standing in your work area for hours on end. Some people have trouble finding time for short breaks, and may even regularly skip lunch.

What does that endless work entail? Over time, fine hand and body movements, repeated hour after hour, day after day, thousands upon thousands of times, eventually strain muscles and tendons. What happens is that all those repetitions cause microscopic tears.

Have this happen over and over, and you may start having all kinds of physical responses, ranging from simple aches to serious medical problems. These are called “repetitive strain injuries” …or RSI’s. RSI is the result of overusing some parts of the body. You may have also heard it called “Occupational Overuse Syndrome.”

Learning office ergonomics is a great way to avoid RSI and make your job easier and safer.

We’ve researched the top 10 ways to keep your space ergonomic and to ward off the aches and pains that come with sitting at a desk all day:

1. Stay Aligned. What does that mean? Well, it’s just keeping things lined up the way they should be—in the same direction. That includes everything from posture, to legs, to torso, to shoulders, to head. Twisting, turning, tilting, being in awkward position, reaching sideways, all cause problems over time.

2. Stay Relaxed. Any tension that’s in your body, over the long run, can potentially cause problems. The more relaxed you are, as you sit or stand at work, the better off you’ll be.

3. Avoid Extreme Positions. For example, if you’ve been holding a phone receiver in the crook of your neck while you shuffle paperwork around, you can end up with a sore neck and shoulder. Or when you’ve been intently hunched over in front of a computer screen for hours, you can hardly stand up. Extreme positions like these aren’t doing you any good.

4. Switch Up Your Tasks. For example, if you’ve been steadily keying in data, stop for a while, and jot down some notes. Or work on a planning list, go over some reports, or edit some documents. Just do something else, requiring different hand movements and in a different posture, to give yourself a break.

5. Change Position. Get the circulation flowing. Stand up for a minute or two. Move around. Go for a walk. Meet somebody away from your work station. Do some filing. Go get something, or put something away. Just do anything that causes you to shift positions, and move around.

6. Take More Breaks, even if they’re work breaks. If you have a couple of things to do that are different, split them up, so that you get two shorter breaks, rather than doing them all at once in a longer break.

7. Move Effectively. Lift things properly, rather than straining your back. Keep things in front of you, so you aren’t reaching to the side. Have the right posture and wrist angle at the keyboard.

8. Don’t Overprotect. Sometimes you can become too inflexible, too square, or too rigid in your movements. For example, you can overdo posture by being too stiff. Again, any tension, or needless repetitive motion, is a potential problem.

9. Watch Your Footwear. A lot of things go wrong when your feet aren’t properly supported. It could be those great-looking high heels. It could be sandals with no padding. Or it could be a hard floor. Wear comfortable, supportive, shoes with adequate padding for the floor area where you work.

10. Stretch! This is so important that you can do a simple google search about stretching at your desk and it will return thousands of results.

Remember, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace!

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. Luckily, our extensive content library includes hundreds of health and wellness video courses for employees!

Check out a preview of our new course on Ergonomics, RSI and stretching:

Minimize Eye Strain

To view the entire course and others within The BizLibrary Collection, start your free trial today!

Content Manager at BizLibrary