“Ergonomics” sounds like a scarier word than it actually is. Maybe it’s the word “ergo” that confuses people, but it shouldn’t. Ergonomics is just the name of the field that looks at how people’s efficiency while they’re working. An ergonomic mouse is designed to help you work more efficiently, nothing more, nothing less. If the chair you’re using at work isn’t comfortable and keeps giving you backaches, then guess what? That’s an ergonomic issue, since back pain is probably going to keep you from working as well as you could otherwise.
At the office
Not surprisingly, ergonomic issues come up most often in the office, although they can also occur in your home office (if your home office is your only office, then that’s even more true). The best kind of office chair is one that offers back support, since that promotes good posture, and good posture means you’re less likely to be dealing with back issues (so your mom really did have a good reason for telling you not to slouch). You don’t want to be putting more wear and tear on your body than is absolutely necessary.
You should also be able to adjust your office chair to make it as comfortable as possible. If you can’t do that, control cables may be the solution. The worst kinds of chairs to work in all day are those hard plastic ones that don’t really do anything except sit there and collect dust. They don’t have wheels or levers or any of the other technology that makes for a more comfortable working environment. They’re just cheap places to sit, and the low backs also make it harder for you to get the necessary back support. If your office is making you sit in bad chairs, petition for an upgrade.
What all that typing does
Most office jobs require a fair amount of typing, although the amount varies wildly by job and situation. Some professionals will type thousands of words a day on average. Not surprisingly, that’s hard on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome is actually one of the most common workplace injuries nowadays. At the end of the day, you may have a sore back from your chair and sore hands from typing. It’s a brutal mix. Sure, you may not be hauling concrete on a construction site, but it can still do a number on your body. At the end of the week, you may be too sore to focus on your favorite weekend hobbies, like working on your garden or rehearsing with your garage band.
The good news is more offices are becoming aware of ergonomic issues, and they’re trying to make sure their employees get the support they need. A compression wrist sleeve can help alleviate the stress on your wrist from all those repetitive motions. Put it on when you get to work and start typing, and take it off when you leave for the day (or wear it home if you want). You may also want to talk to your supervisors about slightly modifying the day’s schedule so you’re not typing constantly all day. Don’t forget to stand up and stretch a few times a day, too. It’ll perk you up just as much (or more) than a good cup of coffee.