A Winter Guide to Travel Ergonomics November 30 2017
Colder weather can stiffen your joints and reduce blood flow to the extremities. Especially if you travel often for work or spend a considerable amount of time working outside the office, you’ll want to look into some different approaches to ergonomics depending on the temperature. The right tools can help improve posture and prevent fatigue while some easy tips to keep in mind can keep your body engaged and warm.
Long journeys by plane, train, or car put strain on the muscles in the back and shoulders since sitting for long periods of time involves a static position. If you sustain an improper posture for too long, it can lead to pain and muscle fatigue in the upper and lower back. Try these tips to help:
- Take breaks! Shift positions, get out of the car to talk walks at rest or refueling stops, or take a stroll through the center aisle of a plane or train.
- Bring a lumbar cushion. These will support your lower back when sittings for extended periods of time. An inflatable model can easily fit into a carry-on bag.
- Distribute carried weight evenly. Use an ergonomic backpack with padded straps to distribute all the weight you’re carrying evenly along your back. Get luggage with wheels and a handle so you can roll it along.
- Use a hands-free cell phone. These devices prevent unnatural positions or bending of the neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles.
Legs can get restless when they remain still for too long. This restlessness can be due to not enough circulation reaching your feet. Pack a portable footrest for use in long car rides or airplanes. Footrests elevate the legs, which promotes circulation throughout the legs and feet.
Your Arms, Wrists and Hands
The nerves and joints in the arms, wrists, and hands are more susceptible to stress or being affected by the weather. Laptops, the most commonly used work travel device, are convenient but not designed with ergonomics in mind. Try using the following ergonomic equipment to prevent the possible formation of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Use a full size attachable keyboard instead of the laptop’s built in keyboard. These will promote proper positioning of the wrists and arms. Folding or roll-up keyboards are travel-friendly options.
- Use a travel friendly mouse. Trackpads on laptops frequently place stress on the shoulders and upper back.
- A clipboard works well for any handwriting tasks. That way you don’t have to rely on finding a hard surface at the time you need it.
- Take the time to stretch your arms, wrists, and hands to ease tension!
Keeping your joints and ligaments engaged and flexible is essential when traveling for work, especially in winter weather where stiffness is common. Using travel friendly office equipment and remembering to stretch and walk around every so often will you help reduce stress on your body and keep you focused. Remember that being away from the office is no excuse to stop your ergonomic routines!