You know what’s scary? Watching people sit at their desks. It’s like Michael Meyers just went on a murder spree and that’s just how they wound up – all slumped over and uncomfortable-looking, necks and arms at odd angles with their eyes glazed over.

All cheesy Halloween references aside, I’ve seen some terrible desk-yoga going on in the office. I’m guilty of it myself sometimes; on those days, I have a pretty good idea of why I come home with an aching lower back.

But what about those self-aware days? I was careful not to slouch, so my back shouldn’t be killing me, right? I have a sit-to-stand ergonomic desk, so certainly all my problems should be solved, right?

Ergonomics has become one of the most frequently used words in the office-furniture industry. It is also one of the most misunderstood– you can’t just slap an “ergonomic design!” sticker on a lumbar cushion and call it a day. Ergonomics stems from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomos, meaning natural laws. Therefore, ergonomics is the study of the body and its natural movements at work.

In other words, ergonomics boils down to fitting the task, workspace, or product for how the body is naturally designed to work.

This may come as a shock, but slouching isn’t your body’s favorite way of working. This might come as an actual shock, but your body doesn’t like sitting perfectly upright either! Think about it: your head is a bowling ball, bearing straight down on the popsicle stick that is your spine. Not easy, right? Now picture that same bowling ball and popsicle stick cradled back. It takes a surprising amount of force off your spine to perform seated work leaned a few degrees back in your chair.

Your body is also not meant to be stagnant for hours on end. This is where a sit-stand desk is fantastic if you remember to use it. Standing once an hour for a few minutes helps to loosen up your spine that has been under compression, as well as your other joints. If you’re fortunate enough to have a sit-stand desk, give standing for five minutes out of the hour a try. I’m predicting a lot less back pain in your future.

So, while I haven’t quite kicked the habit of slumping over or built up a habit of standing for portions of my day, at least I’m able to look back on my day and understand why it feels like I had a desk dropped on me.

Peace, love, and pumpkin spice,
Kayla Webster
R&D Engineer