Ergonomics isn’t just a fancy word for feeling more comfortable while doing daily tasks at work and home. Using ergonomic tools can actually improve the function of the body’s joints, contribute to overall wellbeing, and make individuals more productive.1,2
These are some of the best ergonomic tools for maintaining joint health, tips for healthy habits, and some exercises to relieve and prevent joint pain.
Types of Ergonomic Tools
An investment in ergonomics is a commitment to one’s health and longevity. One of the best places to start with ergonomic upgrades is the chair.3
An office chair with wheels and a five-point base can help promote stability while reducing the risk of joint pain. Seat backs of chairs should be height-adjustable and have lumbar support to fit the natural curve of the back. It also helps to sit in a way in which there’s a one-inch gap between the backs of the knees and the front edge of the seat. Armrests on chairs should also be adjustable so that the forearms are supported while typing.
Whether an individual works in an office or remotely, it is important to use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. There are many options for these types of tools to suit every budget. Proper mouse and keyboard height is needed to support the wrists and prevent joint problems.4 It may help to adjust the slope of the keyboard so that the wrists are flat and to place the mouse at the same height as the keyboard. Try using a mouse without a mousepad to prevent an upward tilt that can cause wrist and hand strain.
Ergonomic Lifestyle Tips
Certain poor body mechanics should be avoided to prevent joint pain from developing and getting worse. Practice these habits when working at a computer or using the hands for other daily tasks:4,5,6
- Break up repetitious work by stepping away once per hour
- Relax the muscles and shift positions frequently
- Keep fingers warm during use and wear gloves when necessary
- Don’t slouch while sitting or standing
- Wear appropriate eye correction to avoid eye strain and poor posture
Hand Exercises to Prevent Joint Pain
In addition to using ergonomic tools and applying topical arthritis pain relief creams like JointFlex, there are certain exercises that can be done to prevent joint pain from getting worse. Poor ergonomics over time can lead to constant pain, weakness, and numbness of frequently used joints.
An easy exercise that can be done at the desk is to rest the elbows on the desk and use one hand to gently bend back the other hand towards the forearm for a few seconds. Then repeat this exercise with the other hand and switch back and forth a few times to flex the wrists. An exercise that works well to protect the joints of the fingers is to spread the fingers as far apart as possible and then hold that position. After a few seconds, make tight fists and repeat this sequence a few times. Also, try bending and straightening each finger, one by one. Hold and extend each finger for a few seconds as part of a hand strengthening routine.
Range-of-motion exercises like these can easily be done in an office, at home, or while doing lawn and garden chores outside. Simple preventative measures go a long way in the prevention and relief of painful joint conditions like arthritis.
REFERENCES FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS FOR LONG TERM JOINT HEALTH
1. The advantages of ergonomics. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHAPubs/ergo/ergoadvantages.pdf.
2. Selby, N. C. & Triano, J. J. (2006 September 26). Ergonomics of the office and workplace: An overview. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/ergonomics-office-and-workplace-overview.
3. Rizzo, T. H. Ergonomics workplace tips. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/life-stages/work/workplace-ergonomics.php.
4. Burke, S. (2014 June 20). Ten best laptop setups. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/10-best-laptop-setups.
5. Selby, N. C. & Triano, J. J. (2006 September 26). Work ergonomics: Minimize back injuries. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/work-ergonomics-minimize-back-injuries.
6. Walsh, A. (2015 August 5). Nine ergonomic tips for synchronizing your work station and office chair. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/9-ergonomic-tips-synchronizing-your-work-station-and-office-chair.
Sudden Joint Pain Causes and How to Treat It
Many types of joint pain associated with arthritis are slow to develop and get worse over time if an effective..
Joint Pain vs. Muscle Pain: What’s the Difference?
When pain is felt in the body, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish exactly where the pain is originating..