Ergonomic Office Chairs And The Technical Writer
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If you work at a technical writer, there are a few things more precious to you than your workstation and your chair. Whether you do technical writing, technical editing or some other form of documentation development, these two pieces of equipment will become the foundation from which you will conduct your work. So in this article we will look at the ergonomic chair, as related to technical writing.
Regardless of how many hours a technical writer spends in their office chair, there are some important things to consider when selecting a good ergonomic office chair. But what exactly is ergonomics? In plain language, ergonomics is the study of how a human body functions in a particular environment with the tools and equipment of that job. That equipment and environment impacts the human body in various ways and the field of ergonomics involves identifying risks for injury and controlling those risks.
When you, the technical writer considers purchasing an ergonomic office chair, these are some of the issues to look at before that purchase.
1. How do you sit at your desk? Do you put your feet squarely below you? Do you sit with one leg folded underneath you? Do you sit far away from the keyboard or hover closely over it? After you purchase a good ergonomic office chair, be sure to sit with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and your feet firmly on the floor or a foot rest. Get used to writing with good posture and life will be much better in the end.
2. How is your workstation configured? Is everything you need within an arm’s length reach? Are all of your work surfaces at comfortable heights? It’s important that your monitor be an arms length away and at eye level and that frequently used equipment and supplies are within easy arm’s reach. Technical writing can sometimes involve getting into the “zone.” We all know that means you just think and write. You don’t move. It’s then that the configuration of your workstation, your posture and the quality of your chair become especially important.
3. What is lacking in your current office chair? Is the height adjustable? Does it roll or are the rollers long since missing? Is the seat pan adjustable and does the seat pan size fit your bottom size? Is the back of the chair adjustable? If your desk is not height adjustable, then begin adjusting your ergonomic office chair from the floor up. This means sit squarely with your knees bent. Lower the ergonomic office chair until your feet are flat on the floor. Next make sure your feet do not dangle. Sit up straight and adjust the seat pan and chair back to evenly distribute and support your weight.
4. Do you need armrests? I think armrests are vital for technical writers. Most ergonomic evaluators agree that for most office workers, adjustable arm rests are vital and allow the use to relax their arms and shoulders. This prevents undue strain. Adjust arm rests so shoulders are relaxed and elbows hang comfortably, and forearms, wrists and hands are aligned in a straight, neutral position. Remember your hands you be relaxed as you type. Do not make the mistake of leaning on your elbow on your bare desk. A very painful condition of inflammation can flare up in your elbow and send you running for an ice pack.
5. Finally, what are your work habits? Do you sit for hours on end, crunching numbers or writing? If so, no ergonomic office chair will fix your stiffness or soreness from doing this to your body. Working in a healthy manner means taking breaks for your body. Get up and walk around or stretch in some way at least once an hour. This break will loosen up stiff joints, promote circulation and reduce muscle tension.
Buying a good ergonomic office chair is a great first step towards avoiding an ergonomic injury. Technical writers want to beware of this because a repetitive strain injury could sideline you from your job while your body rests or heals. If you are an independent technical writer, and not a salaried corporate worker, this can even translate into loss of income. The world wide web is a great place to find tons of information on ergonomic office chairs, or ergonomic injury prevention.
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