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Ergonomic Tips: Get Off the Dining Room Table, Jimmy!

by Will M on June 28, 2012

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I’ve gained much wisdom in the time that I’ve been married – the past month, that is. Much of that wisdom has been about what things are used for and where things go. Well mostly, where things don’t go – dirty socks don’t go under the coffee table; recently watched DVDs don’t go on the end table in front of our engagement pictures; unopened paper bills mailed two months ago that I’ve already paid online don’t go on the kitchen counter, etc.

And did you know that a dining room table is supposed to be used for eating and entertaining guests? I had no idea! I’ve always found it to be an ideal place for piling clean clothes taken out of the adjacent dryer, whatever CDs I’ve brought in from the car that day, spillover of aforementioned unopened bills, and any number of useful things I might have amassed and returned with in my daily excursions to the outside world. And although to me they make great hangers for the pants I wore that day, apparently dining room chairs are meant to be sat in while eating and entertaining. It’s a strange, new world I’m living in, friends.

But there are many of you out there misusing your dining room chairs and tables in a much more harmful way. Some of you are using the dining room table for – gasp – a workstation! Take our friend Jimmy here (pictured above). Jimmy works in construction management, sometimes 60 hours a week. At least two of these hours a day are spent on a laptop, and his dining room table is where a lot of his computer work gets done. This makes Jimmy sore, being hunched over in a decidedly unergonomic chair and resting his elbows at the wrong height.

Jimmy is not alone. Laptops and tablets have rendered ergonomics secondary to convenience for many people, and when you can work from anywhere, you tend to work without regard to your body’s position. Working at the dining room table like Jimmy here, even for a couple of hours a day, can result in repetitive stress injuries, poor circulation, and shoulder, neck and back pain. Don’t worry, Jimmys of the world! The Human Solution is here to help.

UpLift 450 Laminate Electric 26.8" - 48" Sit-Stand DeskFirst, replace that dining room table with an adjustable height, sit-to-stand desk. An affordable pedestal desk like the UpLift 450 will get your laptop to the proper height to have your shoulders and wrists relaxed while typing. Or upgrade to a Solid Wood UpLift 800 adjustable height desk, with a beautiful real wood top and a height adjustment of anywhere from 23 to 49 inches. To improve health and potentially fight off an early death, you should be spending at least 30 minutes of those two hours standing, and a height-adjustable desk will help get your laptop up with you. Also, since you will be typing on top of the table instead of with a keyboard tray, having the ability to get your desk as low as 23 inches will help get your keyboard in the right place – ideally, lap level – when you’re seated.

Humanscale Freedom Chair with DeskSpeaking of being seated, that dining room chair is all wrong as well. Dining room chairs are almost guaranteed to have no real seat cushioning, and that chair back isn’t helping matters either. You need a nice ergonomic chair with a comfortable seat, adjustability to get you in the proper ergonomic position, and a seat back that will allow you to maintain proper posture and support you when reclining. You’ll want to get something specific to your body type and pain issues, but a good start would be to take a look at some of our more popular models like an Ergohuman ME7ERG, a Steelcase Leap Chair, or, if you want an ergonomic chair where you don’t have to mess with knobs and levers for adjustment, something more intuitive like the Humanscale Freedom Chair. Any ergonomic chair would be a vast improvement over that hard, rigid dining room chair.

Of course, you’re never going to be truly ergonomic using that laptop, Jimmy. The proper position is to have the keyboard in your lap and the monitor at eye level to reduce strain and improve posture, which is pretty much impossible given the layout of a laptop. But any improvements you make will offer immediate benefits, and getting your keyboard to the right height and giving your body the proper chair support are certainly better than being hunched over resting your elbows on a high table like Jimmy here. That table is for eating, not working, Jimmy! Or so I’ve been told.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Jimmy. The Human Solution can get you set up and feeling better in no time. If there are any other Jimmys out there who want to get out of the dining room and into an ergonomic workstation, feel free to call us at 800-531-3746, ask one of our experts in live chat, or email us at info@thehumansolution.com, and we will find what’s right for you.

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Written by Will M

Will M

Will Moore has been with The Human Solution since 2011, and currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife Angie and their dog Eli. When not writing about or selling ergonomic furniture, he’s usually catching a live music show or watching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. He enjoys bacon, Pearl Jam, and sitting in a Steelcase Amia Chair when not using his desk’s standing capabilities (ah, the perks of working at THS). He is responsible for spearheading the very popular Music Friday at THS, in which a theme is picked and everyone plays a song in turn, culminating in the entire office ceremonially playing “Who Let the Dogs Out,” no matter what the theme, every Friday at 6 pm when we close.

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