Feel like taking care of your health and getting the most out of your performance at work or in school is a mission impossible? Your priority now is to study. Or to work. Health will wait. You’ll deal with it later.
What if I told you that, in fact, by taking care of your health, you can achieve almost twice as much tomorrow as you did today?
I said “health”, are you seeing a packed sweaty gym, boiled spinach in stinky plastic containers and a sad and empty bank account right now? Yeah, actually, it takes zero effort on your part and under $50 in terms of your budget.
I’ll give you a clue - ergonomics. You’ve sure heard about it: bulky adjustable desks and fancy chairs with headrests that folks in big corporate offices get when they complain about back pain. They also cost a fortune and you can’t wheel a freaking reclining orthopedic chair into Starbucks with you. Yep, those aren’t the solution we’re talking about either.
Numerous studies over the years have showed that the simplest ergonomic solutions improve productivity. Big time.
Already in 1990 (yep, some of you were likely not even on your parents’ bucket list at the time), Dainoff conducted a series of experiments and found that those who worked in ergonomically optimized settings had a 17.5% productivity increase compared to those who worked in “normal”, i.e. suboptimal, conditions.
Aaras1, Eastman2, Chung3, Bubb4 - some studies saw as much as a 47.79% increase in productivity!
Just imagine, with zero extra effort, you get up to 50% more done during the day. You feel fresh. You have more energy. You look better too.
Imagine a person who walks around chin high, back straight, looking fit and confident. And now imagine the one who is slouching, shoulders forward, head down, starring at his feet. Which one is more attractive?
Now, if you translate even a 17% productivity increase directly into your grade increase, what would your grades be like now? A 17% increase could get you from a C to a B or from a B- to an A. What would that difference make in terms of your post-grad opportunities?
Or how much better off would you be if instead of $3,000 this month you got $3,510, or instead of $5,000 - $5,850. Imagine what you would do with that extra $500-800? That’s the power of simple ergonomic adjustments!
In the world where the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer, you need the edge over everybody else.
This determines your future success. Being able to balance health and work effortlessly is a big asset.
Whatever happens in other parts of your life, you got this under control.
There’s a muscle fatigue and a general fatigue. You’ve sure had both. Muscle fatigue is when every inch of your body screams “i'm done with you, a**hole!” and general fatigue is when you read a paragraph 6 times in a row and can’t tell what you’ve just read about.
In more scientific terms, the amount of stress your body suffers from decreases its “readiness to use energy and reduces alertness, leading to loss of efficiency and decreased work capacity as well as psychological changes in inaction of motor activity and respiration, the presence of pain, weight on the eyeballs, and attenuation of motivation (Grandjean and Bubb).”
You just can’t concentrate any more. Point.
Let’s first see what type of a sitting avenger you are, and then we’ll discuss some ergonomic superpower add-onsthat would work for you. And before you start saying that carrying extra stuff around isn’t sexy, look at the image below and ask yourself if looking like a Scrooge at 20-something is sexy at all?
Let’s take Drew, the Dried Seahorse. If you’re Drew, you need back support. In ergonomics slang, that’s called lumbar support. A lumbar cushion supports the normal curve of your back and fills in that scary gap between you and the chair. This is a must for almost every sitting avenger out there.
While there are plenty of options available, the memory foam cushions offer the most support. For a simple lumbar cushion, you could check out ComfiLife lumbar cushion, for a more sophisticated choice – take a look at Aylio. And if you want the most support for the buck, take a look at the Soft & Care back & tailbone cushion, one of the most practical value/price options out there. If you need more details and a coupon code, take a look at this detailed review of Soft & Care. Which cushion would be the best for you? Check out the comparison chart at the bottom of the page. If you are the Seahorse type, you also tend to slide under the table, don’t you? If you do - get a foot rest. I know, carrying all this around is crazy, right? Well, if you have your own desk, you could get a simple foot rest like this. But if you are a tumbleweed, there’s a foldable hammock foot rest out there that you can fit into your bag. It’s pretty cool. Or make your own? Get creative, remember where that extra 47% of productivity will take you!
Edward ScissorLegs – you here? Cz I can hear that tailbone scream in pain. In ergonomics slang, you need some serious coccyx support. It would also be great if you got a 2 in 1 lumbar and coccyx cushion. Yeeeeeeah...that'd be great. Check the comparison chart below for more details.
However. In your case it literally "wouldn't hurt" to take coccyx support to the next level. Consider a more sophisticated coccyx support cushion like Purple. It’s hyper-elastic polymer mesh (designed by a rocket scientist, no joke, check the review) is like heaven on earth compared to a memory foam. The Royal one, most popular option, is bulky though, so if you need to carry it around, take a look at their lighter portable version.
Are you Gale the Snail? You’ve got it together, I’ll give you that. But being in this position for hours on end tightens your hip flexors, bringing along an array of problems, including a posterior pelvic tilt. So sit up!
A Snail would need: lumbar support, see the chart below for help on how to pick one, and foot support at the very least. A coccyx cushion would be nice as well, check the Soft & Care 2 in 1 cushion in the comparison chart. While a lumbar cushion will take the pressure off your spine, and let you lean against the back of your seat, the foot support will help you keep your feet on the floor. As with the Seahorse, pick an option that works for you: if you can afford to have a stationary foot rest, go for it. If not – take a look at the portable hammock foot rest option.
And here’s Goff, the Gollum. Now, you would benefit from an array of ergonomic adjustments. Let’s start with the back. Lumbar support, lumbar support, lumbar support. A simple back cushion would work, but check the comparison chart below for more details.
If, like Goff, you tend to curve your neck, consider a laptop stand. Yep, if you don’t want to look like Goff the Gollum your whole life, get a freaking stand! I had one when I was in school and carried it around. It’s light. It helped my neck and posture. And also cooled my laptop. Neat feature, ah? Here's a similar one. And get a mouse for Goff’s sake! That whole track pad thing is messing up your spine, shoulder and neck alignment more than you can imagine. I use a foldable one like this. Trust me, it won’t take up more space in your bag than a Twix would.
Sophy the Sphinx. If you are the Sphinx type, please, sit up. There really isn’t much help for you until you do. No, really. If you absolutely have to work like this, at least put a big pillow underneath to ease the strain on your back and let your chin rest on the edge to give your neck a break. Also, if your legs are on the floor, place a pillow underneath your feet. Remember that something always has to support a gap between you and the floor. So, no gaps.
I did see some people talking about a Lie Down Cushion, but haven't seen any being sold by trustworthy retailers, so if you are up for this - proceed with caution.
Finally, meet The Superman. He needs coffee. Lots of it. A head support wouldn’t hurt either, don’t you think? If you have a high chair or spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, get a neck pillow, something simple like this one. Neck never gets enough attention. Just put it up there and let the power of ergonomics work its miracles on your productivity levels.
And hey, don't forget about coccyx cushions. That is a game changer for anyone who has spent at least 2 hours sitting. Ever. And don't forget to follow us on social either. For more useful tips.
Need more details? Find full reviews of these coccyx pillows here.
Need more details? Find full reviews of these lumbar pillows here.
1. Aaras, Arne, Gunnar Horgen, Hans-Henrik Bjorset, Ola Ro, and H. Walsoe. 2001. “Musculoskeletal, Visual and Psychosocial Stress in VDU Operators before and after Multidisciplinary Ergonomic Interventions. A 6-year Prospective Study—Part II.” Applied Ergonomics 32(6): 559 –557.
2. Eastman K 1983 Ergonomics Design for People of Work (New York : Van Nostrand Renhold) pp 133-137
3.Chung M K and Choi K I 1997 Ergonomic analysis of musculoskeletal discomforts among conventional VDT operators. Journal of Computers and industrial engineering. 33 521-524. Available from http://www.postech.ac.kr /ie/huma/html/journal/Inter-J.htm.
4. Bubb H 2013 A Consideration of the Nature of Work and the Consequences for the Human Oriented Design of Production and Products Journal of Applied Ergonomics. 37 (4) 401-7.
5. Grandjean E 2000 Fitting the Task To The Man. A Textbook of Occupational of Ergonomics. 4 th Ed. (London : Taylor & Francis).
6. Bubb H 2013 A Consideration of the Nature of Work and the Consequences for the Human Oriented Design of Production and Products Journal of Applied Ergonomics. 37 (4) 401-7.