Sadly, most products are not designed for ergonomics. Ergonomic design keeping improving and produces are healthier every year, but you still can look around your home and see dozens of un-ergonomic items. Upgrading to adjustable height standing tables and garage workbenches helps, but it isn’t enough. These are some of the biggest ergonomic threats in the home and a few tips on how to improve them for the sake of your health and well being.
In the kitchen
Kitchen counters and sinks often produce work conditions that aren’t ergonomic. The standard height isn’t right for most people, leading you to bend over or stretch up to prepare food, cook, and wash dishes. HGTV suggests having two counter heights in the kitchen, one the standard height and one on the open side of the kitchen a few inches higher to serve as an ergonomic space and eat-in bar.
Ducking, bending, and crouching to access the contents of cabinets is another risk. Low cabinets lead to lots of awkward bending and crouching to find necessary pots and pans, while poorly designed cabinets that mean you have to duck and swivel to access necessary spices and plates place a similar strain on your kitchen workflow. You can move cabinet hinges relatively easily in order to correct some of these problems.
In the office/hobby room
Besides the obvious issues with most desks and chairs that encourage you to remain sedentary and perform repetitive motions while seated with poor posture, offices pose a few other threats to ergonomics. Problems that adjustable height sit to stand desks can’t answer include the type of lighting, where you store supplies that you need regularly, and even the quality of the crafting or work tools you use.
Storing supplies, especially heavy things, that you need regularly in places that require you to reach above your shoulders or crouch causes unnecessary strain. Tools that make you exert excessive force repeatedly or squeeze something while your wrists are bent both lead to tendon and joint problems. Address the first by changing your storage scheme to keep the items you use most in the most convenient storage. Try new tools and focus on which tasks cause your joint to ache to identify the things you need to upgrade.
In the living room
If you spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV or relaxing in any other way in the living room, ergonomics are a concern. Your television itself and a couch that promotes poor posture are some of the worst offenders. A TV that is too close or far away, too high or too low strains the neck and eyes. Your couch might be a problem because it’s so easy to spend four or five hours slouched in place, perhaps sometimes reaching awkwardly for a snack, the remote, or a light switch.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up your comfy couch, only that you need to think more carefully about your other furniture options. Ergonomic furniture tends to be firmer and have sufficient lumbar support. Adding appropriate foot stools can also help. Moving the television so the top of the TV is at eye level is another easy fix.
Ergonomic threats don’t stop at the office. Adjustable standing desks help you sit and work comfortably at home, but you also need to attend to other problems in the home that might pose other ergonomic health risks.