Ergonomically designed tools and equipment have dramatically improved the way we work and our ability to avoid injury. We all know that these products can reduce strain and improve posture. However, like home exercise equipment, proper and consistent use is the key to achieving the benefits. Just purchasing ergonomic products won’t guarantee better posture. There are three primary reasons that people don’t get results after buying these products – non-use, incorrect use, and isolated use.
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You probably spend a lot of time reading reviews and researching to find the best ergonomic products before making a purchase. You rearrange your workspace and visualize how much better you will feel when you finally get that new ergonomic chair. Unfortunately, the reality is often quite different.
You’ve bought the top rated chair you could find. It finally arrives and you place it in a corner until you have time to set it up. You have the best intentions, but you never quite get around to setting it up. In fact, the box is sitting next to that new standing desk that you still haven’t taken out of the box. The result is that you have a great quality, highly rated ergonomic chair that you’re not using. If you don’t use it, you won’t get the benefits of improved posture and efficiency while working.
The second reason for not getting results is the incorrect use of products. After a couple of weeks of intense research, you bought a new ergonomic chair that will complete your perfect workstation. The chair was delivered and you’ve finally found the time to assemble it.
As you remove everything from the box and verify that nothing is missing, you begin to read the instructions manual. It goes into great detail about the assembly, setup, and proper use of the chair. It’s a little overwhelming and complicated, but you press on because you “should be able to figure it out.”
It took an hour, but you finally got the chair assembled and it looks just like the picture in the manual. However, setting up the chair proves to be a little more difficult than you expected. It doesn’t fit under your desk at the current height and the arms are so high that your shoulders feel like their touching your ears.
The user manual is no help because you still can’t seem to figure out what you’re doing wrong. You get the arm height set to the proper level, but the seat is so high that you can’t sit under your desk properly. You ultimately decide that it’s not TOO bad – at least you have great back support. Unfortunately, you have to lean so far forward to reach the desktop that your low back is flexed and not even touching the lumbar support. This is a great chair, but it’s not going to improve your posture or body mechanics because you aren’t able to use it properly.
Let’s say that you’ve overcome the obstacles of assembling and adjusting your new chair. It fits perfectly under the desk while supporting your low back and it’s more comfortable than a new Lexus sedan. Everything has come together and you’ve created the perfect ergonomic workstation. This should surely improve your posture, right?
As you begin using your new workstation with the perfect chair, you start to feel your back muscles getting stiff after sitting for a couple of hours. The project you’re working on needs to be completed today, so you continue working for another two hours. By the time you complete the project, your back is stiff and sore causing some difficulty when you try to stand.
What’s going on? You just got this amazing ergonomic workstation to prevent this exact situation. Why isn’t it working? The problem is that there are other components to improving posture and body mechanics. You can’t assume that using these ergonomic products alone will solve the problem and eliminate strain on your body.
You may have other factors such as limited back or hip joint flexibility that restricts your ability to achieve a proper sitting position. Your hamstrings, hip flexors, and low back extensor muscles may be chronically tight causing pain with prolonged sitting. Poor muscular endurance in your trunk might prevent you maintaining a neutral spinal posture for more than a few minutes.
Optimize Your Results
Buying ergonomic tools and equipment is a great step toward improving your posture, body mechanics, and efficiency. However, these products are only effective when used properly and consistently. They are components of a good ergonomic program, but they can’t completely eliminate postural strain and the effects of gravity.
Poor flexibility, weakness, impaired muscular endurance, and muscle tightness can limit your ability to properly use the ergonomic equipment. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate other activities into your usual routine. Taking frequent breaks, changing positions, walking, stretching, and performing strength exercises can address these issues and improve your posture. Combining these activities with proper and consistent equipment use is the best way to optimize your results from purchasing ergonomic products.