New Design - A Floor Desk to Cure RSI
How We Sit
Did you know that you can get rid of RSI (repetitive strain injury) with a new ergonomic design for your workstation, at home or at work, to suit your body? At the end of this article, you will see for yourself in a video how the Floor Desk works in practice. But first, why is it so important to be more comfortable while working at the computer? And what is ergonomic design, anyway?
What is Ergonomic Design?
Ergonomics is the science of designing furniture and equipment in the workplace and at home to facilitate the actions performed by the human body. Proper ergonomic design prevents chronic bad posture and poor movement habits which are the cause of RSI. RSI leads to long-term disabilities like carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic neck and back pain, poor circulation, and depression. This article explains why sitting on chairs all day can seriously damage your health and what you can do about it. The new design for your workstation offers some easy and simple ways to modify working at a desk to improve your body's health, comfort, freedom of movement, and your productivity. So what is wrong with a conventional desk?
Sitting at a Table or Desk
Rather than spending thousands of dollars on special chairs and ergonomic equipment, you can modify your workstation for free by listening to your body. What exactly happens when you are perched on a chair? It limits the body to a very small number of positions, none of which are comfortable for very long. The upper part of the body leans over the desk or table, supported by your elbows and hands.
When you are engaged in a telephone conversation or taking notes, you are leaning to one side, the head tilts accordingly, adopting a permanently imbalanced position. What is going on below the desk? The seat area has to adjust its movements slightly but constantly every time a movement is made upstairs (above the desk) by the arms, the head, etc. The waist, hips and thighs are making compensatory movements to keep the body in balance. To facilitate these movements, the pelvis should be straight so that the trunk is supported by the sitting bones (the base of your pelvis: two hard protrusions under your seat) and not the tail. So far so good, the pelvis is supported by the chair, but the weight of your legs is still pressing down on the ankles and feet, which really don't get much relief at all.
Chairs are Bad for You
Observe people sitting on chairs. Legs shift, cross, uncross, kick a little. Feet twitch with discomfort. Crossing the legs takes the weight off one foot temporarily but only to give it to the other foot, so that's no help. Meanwhile the heart, whose job it is to circulate blood throughout your body, has to pump blood to the brain and down to the weighed down toes stuck inside laced, well polished shoes. No wonder a person is tired after a day's work at the office or a dinner party in a posh restaurant! What is the solution? The solution is to frequently get up, walk about, arch back and, preferably, circumstances permitting, lie down on the floor and kick your legs high up in the air. At the office, take the trouble to re-arrange your workstation to fit your very own body measurements.
If You Must Sit at a Desk...
Sitting Down Correctly on a Chair
Sit on a chair facing sideways to a mirror or window pane and look at the above pictures to check your pelvis. Which way are you sitting?
- This sitting position is not the most balanced way of sitting. However, since the key in sitting is to (a) frequently change position and (b) to always make sure that the spine is supported, it is perfectly o.k. to slouch for a short while, as long as you take the trouble to support the gap between the chair and your spine as shown here with the little red cushion.
- This position is the most balanced way of sitting. However, it is not easy to hold for any length of time unless the back is appropriately supported to prevent slouching. Again, notice that back support.
- Perhaps the keyboard is too far away from you or you wouldn't have to lean forward like this.
Re-design your Workstation
- The seat of your chair should be at knee height (where your legs bend), so that your feet can rest flat on the floor. Failing this, if your legs are dangling or resting on the ball of the foot. You will be uncomfortable and develop varicose veins from the constant pressure of the chair edge against the back of your knees.
- Your weight must rest on the sitting bones (two protrusions under your bum), not the tailbone. Prop something behind your lower back if you have a tendency to slouch.
- When you are seated, the desk top should be at waist height, where your elbow bends to allow the forearms and hands to rest horizontally on the desk without having to lift your shoulders. This is also the correct height for a keyboard.
- The height of a computer monitor should be at eye level, to allow your spine to be held fully erect and balanced. This is impossible with laptops so I compromised and raised the laptop onto a couple of thick photo albums and use a wireless pen tablet on the table top.
So Far So Good...
All the above suggestions are helpful in an office environment where workers have little or no influence over the design of their work place. If you are in the privileged position of being allowed to work from home however, re-designing your work place to combat RSI can be taken a lot further towards improving health, comfort and productivity. Watch the next video to become fully aware of how much harm chairs really can do to your body.
Are YOU Chairbound? Loosen the Hamstrings
Are you Chairbound?
One of the main causes of back pain, being overweight, and suffering constant fatigue is that we sit on chairs too much. Most of our waking hours is spent sitting - at breakfast, on the bus, in the car, at work, at lunch, at the dinner table, in the toilet. In fact, if we are not either walking or sleeping we are probably sitting. Holding a position for any length of time is the most tiring form of activity. It takes more energy and effort to sit perched on a chair for hours than to run around the block. Sitting on chairs causes stiffness in the hips and legs because the legs are held in a constantly bent position. The result is a permanent shortening of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the:
- hamstrings (the tendons behind the knees).
- And the "Y" ligaments (those that attach the leg to the pelvis).
Watch the next video to fully understand this.
What Chairs Do to your Hamstrings
Please try the following short experiment and be surprised.
- Lie on your back on the floor or on your bed.
- Now lift your feet up towards the ceiling. What shape are your legs making?
Your Own Built In Seat
Chairs were originally invented long, long ago in less hygienic times, to stay off cold and dirty floors. This was long before central heating, clean carpets and parquet flooring. Now please take the trouble to get off your chair for a minute and sit on the floor. You can discover your very own built-in seat. Simply sit on the floor with a straight back and gently rock from side to side so as to feel your sitting bones, the two base-protrusions under your bum. So isn't it high time for a new design?
The New Design in Progress
Evolution of a New Design - The Floor Desk
I got so fed up and uncomfortable sitting at my conventional desk that I found an alternative way of working. I simply sawed off the legs of a wooden chair, and now use a very low wooden coffee table as my desk. In this way my legs rest on the floor under the table. This modification has the following obvious advantages:
- the feet no longer have to support the weight of the legs
- ankles can freely move and rotate to boost circulation
- knees are straight to lengthen the hamstrings
- I am sitting on the sitting bones and not on the lower spine
- I can now move my legs in many different ways to vary their positions while working for many hours non-stop at the computer.
This is a good start but it can still do with some improvement.
Not Even a Legless Chair
More recently, only a few days ago, I found I didn't even need the legless chair any more, finding I could sit more comfortably without it. Yes, you may think, but what about back support? Easy! Now I can lie back and have a rest, close my eyes to think while untangling my tired neck and upper back all at the same time!
A New Design for Working at the Computer
This new way of working at the computer with its many possible variations of holding and moving the body can make you a lot more productive and less tired. The greatest advantage is that you won't feel so stiff anymore. On the contrary; you will begin to feel supple and mobile again like in childhood days. I was almost not going to tell you for fear of being "weird," but if you think about it, the largest part of the world population lives on the floor. Their bodies are a lot less degenerated than ours and they have never even heard of RSI. As long as the room is clean, for me, for now, using the floor is an ideal solution.
Ergonomic Floor Desk for Work
The Floor Desk Works
Sitting on the floor may not be everybody's cup of tea, especially if you are stiff in the hips and knees. But anyone can make a gradual change towards increased comfort and mobility. Every individual can create a new design for their workstation to fit personal needs. Watch this final video to see how working on the floor desk works with plenty of space to move and stretch.
Would you be comfortable using a Floor Desk?
Beware of the Chair
The science is in, and it's scary. Sitting on chairs is bad for you - very bad. So much so that some workplaces are starting to act. Read more in this article: Beware of the Chair, by Lissa Christopher.
Good luck with your experiments at creating a new design for your workstation, possibly even a floor desk. If you found this article useful, share it, leave a constructive comment.
© 2009 Juliette Kando