Josh Kerst, Focal’s chief ergonomist, has dedicated 30 years to helping people create healthier, more active work spaces. In that time, he’s learned a thing or two about ergonomic best practices in the offices.
Below, check out Josh’s 3 tips for ergonomically upgrading your office.
1. You’ve Got to Move it
The human body was meant to move. Intentionally changing up your posture throughout the day helps support blood flow, relieve pressure on spinal disks, and transfer localized static joint loads, just as your body is intended to do.
Postural transitions, as these movements are referred to by ergonomists, can include big motions like moving between sitting to standing, standing to sitting, standing to perching/leaning, or even smaller actions like varying your foot posture along a raised stable foot rail.
So how much should you move exactly? No global movement standards exist yet, but early consensus is pointing to roughly 6 to 10 postural transitions per hour and more than 60 transitions per day.
Ergonomists suggest alternating between postures at a 3:1 ratio (i.e. 9 min. perching/leaning then transition to 3 minutes standing) down to a ratio of 1:1 (i.e., 5 minutes leaning/perching to 5 minutes standing). In addition, people should avoid any static sitting, standing or leaning for more than 20 minutes non-stop wherever feasible.
2. Incorporate Accessories to Encourage Movement
A few basic workstation accessories can get you moving in healthy ways. Try adding a stabilizing foot rest to your standing desk to help you alternate your body weight from side to side and keep your posture dynamic. Wearing comfortable shoes and using a cushioned mat can also help keep fatigue from setting in. Some manufacturers even offer mats with variable contoured surfaces that support alternative foot postures.
The latest craze is to pair wearable technology (i.e., Apple watch, FitBit, etc.) with your workstation to electronically schedule your next move. Many apps have been developed to support dynamic movement and even some are even integrated into the furniture technology to remind us it’s time get off our A$$. If you aren’t willing to cough up the expense for one of the these devices don’t worry, your body has a natural indicator called proprioception that sends out signals and encouraging cues. We just have to remember to act on that important message.
3. Stand up for Yourself
Even if your facilities team won’t let you ditch your seated height desk without a doctor’s note, there’s still have hope. Many companies are heeding the American Medical Association (H-440.843 Health Risks of Sitting) policy statement which encourages employers to provide alternatives to prolonged sitting. One of the most popular methods to meet this policy has been by providing standing height conference and meeting areas.
Raised conference tables are growing in popularity and have shown to be more productive and tend to occupy a smaller footprint that traditional meeting areas. If all else fails on the equipment front, try taking a walking meeting instead sitting all day. Mobile meeting benefits go far beyond the physical as they help break down formalities, relaxes inhibitions and fosters camaraderie between colleagues. Results show that less direct eye contact can fuel more personal conversation. Meeting on the go also minimizes distractions — no phones, no email, no texts, no colleagues interrupting you. Perhaps most intriguing, according to a recent study from researchers at Stanford University, walking leads to more creative thinking,
The bottom line is that too much of any one posture is a problem and it is important to find a balance that works for you. Focal is helping to counteract the problems of prolonged sitting and standing by providing movement inducing products that support a 3rd posture. After 30 years as a practicing ergonomist, my best suggestion is that your best ergonomic position is your next one…