Ergonomics and a healthier work space

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Recently, I ran into an old friend from High School named Drew while I was getting some coffee at the Tannery Arts Coffee Shop. We got to talking about life and how we were both doing, etc. Drew explained to me that he owns a small video production company called Crocker Creations and that he spends most days hunched over a computer. He went on to explain that he was also in pain, he’s gained 30 lbs, and it’s all been accumulating to where he’s become lethargic and doesn’t even care to try to get better. This is what I call a fated meeting. Or, perhaps, it was just a stroke of good luck for Drew.

I began to tell him that what I do for a living is own, and run, a small integrative wellness center called Santa Cruz Core Fitness + Rehab where we help people get out of pain and help them stay out of pain. Once he was feeling better and out of pain, I explained to him, he would be able to lose the extra weight and could then work on making his body stronger by training at the facility as well. Well, it was no surprise that he immediately enlisted my help and began to come in and train on a regular basis.

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But, before we even started training, I wanted to have a really serious conversation with Drew about the importance of an Ergonomic Work Space. For somebody like Drew, sitting at his desk was necessity for his job but an obvious contributing factor to his pain. Ergonomics is the practice of arranging your workspace in a way that allows for the least amount of stress on your body thereby reducing the chance injuries.

So many of us spend long hours at a computer, driving, or sitting at a desk and that’s why we should all try and implement some of these simple practices.

  1. Adjust your computer monitor so that it’s slightly lower than eye level which helps to straighten your cervical spine. Be careful not to go too low though. If you wear glasses, be sure tilt the screen back about 30 degrees to help protect the strain on your eyes.
  2. Use an adjustable chair to help improve your posture. Try to find one with Lumbar support or even a Lumbar cushion.
  3. Rest your eyes occasionally. Take them off the computer screen and focus on something about 20 feet away.
  4. Stand up, stretch your neck, arms and back, and take some deep breaths to increase oxygen flow to your brain. Doing this will help you maintain energy and focus throughout the day.

In addition to these Ergonomic tips, I gave drew a One-Minute to Better Posture exercise that he could do during his stretching breaks throughout the day.

  1. Stand and distribute your weight equally over both feet
    Keep soft knees
  2. Level your hips and Keep a slight curve in your back – Think of your pelvis being a bucket of water and you don’t want to spill it either way. (Be sure to remember your weight distribution)
  3. Lift up the chest while remembering to not compromise the other postural positions you’ve already established.
  4. Lower your chin parallel to the floor and press your head back as if into an imaginary wall.
    Retract your shoulder blades slightly and make sure your shoulders are down away from your ears and with arms at your sides, palms are facing forward.

That’s it. Better posture in no time at all.

Creating a more Ergonomic work space and improving your posture are simple changes that we can all make to give ourselves a better work and living experience, help with fatigue, and help with focus during the day. I encourage everybody, in pain or not, to make these changes at home and at work. Sitting is the new smoking, causing a variety of detrimental effect. So, take a break every hour to keep your body healthy.

Now, as for Drew, well, this wasn’t all he changed. But, with these small, simple changes to his workspace, and by coming to train at Santa Cruz Core on a regular basis, he’s noticed a massive change in his pain level, has lost weight, increased energy, and has even began to run again. He’s “…beginning to feel like a 29 year old man should feel” again.

It’s stories like these that make me love what I do even more and keep me inspired to continue to learn and innovate. Nothing gives me greater joy than being able to use knowledge I have gained to positively impact someone else’s life. You can read more about me on my Bio page HERE, and stay tuned for weekly health, fitness, and nutrition articles here on Santa Cruz Waves. If you have a topic you’d like to learn about don’t hesitate to ask by e-mailing me HERE.

Be well,

Jaimi Ellison
Owner/CEO/Elite Trainer/Certified Nutritionist
Santa Cruz CORE Fitness + Rehab


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