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Ergonomics at the Office: What to Look Out For

As the working world slowly returns to the office, many jobs require workers to engage in sedentary lifestyles from 9-5. Although this is the “norm”, it isn’t ideal for your body from a health perspective.

How efficient you are at work has a lot to do with your work environment.

Does your neck or back hurt after a long workday? Do you notice a significantly decreased range of motion after sitting in one position working for a few hours? 

Ergonomics increases efficiency and productivity by reducing workers’ physical discomfort, including eye strain, back pain, and sore hands while typing.

Some of the most common symptoms caused by poor ergonomics are feeling tingling and numbing sensations, dull, sharp, or burning pain, weak grip strength, muscle soreness, decreased range of motion, swelling or inflammation, joint stiffness, and blurred vision or watery eyes.

When symptoms of poor ergonomics are left unchecked over time, they can turn into more severe issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic back pain, tendonitis, arthritis, headaches, and ruptured discs.

While you’re spending time working in the office (or even at home), it’s important to be aware of the potential inhibitors to poor ergonomics. Here is a list of what to look out for:


  1. Poor posture when sitting

    Often, slouching in your chair might seem harmless, and you even feel more comfortable than sitting upright because you disengage your core and lower back muscles. This causes uneven pressure on the spine.

    Try sitting in a neutral position with your back straight, neck upright, shoulders pulled back, and relaxed, and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

  2. Stationary position for a long time

    Staying in one position for hours on end causes a drop in metabolism, muscle atrophy, rise in cholesterol, and resistance to insulin in the body.

    Try taking frequent breaks throughout the day to change your position, stretch, and move your body to vary your position throughout the day.

  3. Poor lighting

    Not enough lighting, shadows, glares, and color temperatures on screens are a few examples of poor lighting at work. Although you might not realize it, poor lighting can negatively affect your mood, vision, and productivity throughout the day.

    Consider adjusting the lighting in your work environment to get as much natural light as possible in your workspace, using a combination of direct and indirect sunlight, angling your workstation to avoid glares, and using blue light blockers and monitor filters when staring at screens.

  4. Frequent, repetitive movements

    Some of the most repetitive movements performed daily are stroking eyes on a keyboard or moving a computer mouse. These small, repetitive movements can cause micro-trauma to tendons and tissues, leading to inflammation.

    Try eliminating any awkward positions and taking small breaks to release frequently used muscle groups.


Luckily, there are solutions to help reduce the chances of developing conditions caused by poor ergonomics, such as working with a highly trained physical therapist, using an ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse, and standing desks and desk risers.

Becoming more aware of your day-to-day posture can improve ergonomics and overall well-being.




Jessica Jones

Physical Therapist

Jessica recently moved to Seattle from Boston, MA and is excited to join the Therapydia team. Her treatment experience includes orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, and vestibular therapy. Jessica received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2016. She has completed the Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and is in the process of completing a Comprehensive Vestibular Rehabilitation certification. Jessica believes in empowering and inspiring patients to take control of their health through education, movement, and exercise. She enjoys treating patients of all ages and levels while utilizing soft tissue techniques, neuromuscular re-education, balance training as well as therapeutic exercise. In her free time, Jessica enjoys yoga, dancing, kayaking, and hiking with her dog!


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