But first, what is ergonomics?
Ergonomics refer to the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who use them.
Ergonomics goal is to improve workspaces and environments to minimize risk of injury or harm.
Now, why is it or should it be important for us software developers?
An average software developer spent up to 12 hours a day seated in front of a computer, either for work or for pleasure, since a wide variety of our hobbies is also related to spending time in front of the screen. Therefore, I’d say that if there is someone who should pay special attention to ergonomics, that’s a dev.
According to studies, over 50% of IT professionals have experienced one form of pain associated to bad posture, lower back pain, neck pain followed by shoulder and wrist pain.
I must admit that I was not paying enough attention to my workspace ergonomics, until I started having some minor pains, that’s when I realized I had to start improving my workplace.
Therefore, I want to share with you some of the basics that I’ve implemented myself to improve my workspace and prevent miserable painful coding in the future.
One of the most important aspects of enhancing your ergonomics is to improve the way you sit; you need to make sure that you have a neutral sitting position. This position should preserve the natural curves of the spine and put the least amount of strain on your back; the easiest way to do this is to make sure that you have good lumbar support.
For most people, there is a tendency to slouch or lean forward when seated for extended periods of time, pushing out the lower back turning the natural inward curve into an outward curve.
A lumbar support pillow or an office chair with built-in lumbar support will help you prevent long term health issues and minimize the strain on your lower back.
Let’s face it, laptops, as tremendous tools as they are, have a big drawback, awful ergonomics.
The design of a laptop forces users into a trade-off between poor neck posture and poor arms/wrists posture, fortunately, this issue can be easily solved by connecting a couple of peripherals and positioning your laptop correctly.
You need to make sure to position your laptop in a way so that the top of the screen is at eye level, your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen and about 51cm from your eyes.
The easiest way to achieve this is with a laptop stand and connecting a nice bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
And please, do not forget to fix your sitting position first.
The aim with your wrists is to keep them in a neutral position, so adjust your keyboard, chair/desk height so the wrist can align in a straight line with forearm and prevent your arms and wrist resting upon surface areas with sharp or hard edges.
You can also try an ergonomic mouse, this will prevent muscle strain of your wrist and provide more comfort.
It may be tricky to get all the things in place at the first try. however, trust me on this one, it is worth it.