Ergonomics : people talk about it, but does anybody actually know what it means?
Ergon, meaning work + Economics. The study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.
In breaking it down, there is one very simple, key thing that aids in the “efficiency” of pain-free working. Extension.
If I had to explain extension in its simplest form, I’d say “arching backward.” This is the natural curvature of both your neck and low back. Any time you induce extension in your neck or low back, you naturally relieve the pressure on your vertebral discs (you know, the squishy, absorbent pads between the bones that make up your spine). And when you relieve the pressure, you also naturally take pressure off of the surrounding nerves. This relieves pain.
How do you do this in a work chair / working environment?
The trick is to find the thing that works best for you. Ambiguous, I know. But what I’m saying is that you need to experiment a bit. I, personally, use an excercise (medicine) ball in my office. When I’m driving, I use a camping material (self inflating airback) type pillow that allows me to inflate/ deflate air as needed, and place that behind my low back. When I travel via airplane, I use BOTH my air pillow and a fuzzy c-shaped neck pillow.
When you don’t have access to any of those, I recommend using a towel, rolling it up (rubber banding the ends so it stays) and placing that behind your low back or neck. Or just find another tool that works for you, so long as it induces extension.
It’s simple. Really. If you allow it to be. But believe it or not, many people forget to do these simple things throughout the day. Until the pain is too much and they need an intervention. Might I suggest that you apply the simple things to save yourself pain and money. For yourself and all the people around you who have to deal with you (I say that with a smile).
And just remember, E = E ( ERGONOMICS = EXTENSION ).