Suffering from a sore neck while you work? Or stiff shoulders? Or having some back pain? There’s a good chance your eyes are to blame. Much like the old gambling adage, “the house always wins,” when it comes to being comfortable while working, ergonomists will tell you, “the eyes always wins.”
The eyes only care about their own comfort and to ensure that, they’ll force the rest of the body to contort into unhealthy positions. You’ll really notice this after a few hours in front of the computer.
One way to create a win-win situation for both your eyes and your body is to move your monitor. Try bringing it closer, moving it away, and adjusting it up or down—of course a monitor arm makes this easier to do. We also recommend increasing the size of the on-screen font. Make your eyes comfortable and your body will thank you.
How many companies can say that and mean it, literally? Not many. Over the years we’ve learned that one of best ways to keep backaches and pains at bay is by properly supporting and aligning a person’s spine while they sit—particularly for the long periods of time they spend sitting at work. That’s why we design the best ergonomic chairs we can.
Consider the Embody office chair, designed by Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber. More than 30 professionals, physicians, and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics worked with Stumpf and Weber to develop the instinctive back of the Embody Chair. Sit in it and you’ll feel the backrest automatically adjust as you move and shift positions. The result keeps your spine aligned and healthy.
When we say, “We’ve got your back,” we mean it.
Interested in the science of sitting? Check out Herman Miller’s research here.
Our bodies aren’t designed to stay in one position for long periods of time. That’s why having the freedom to move is so important. In the office, this means having an ergonomic chair, one that supports your body and encourages a variety of postures throughout the day. Sit up, sit back, and recline; shift and stretch; the more you move, the more your body will thank you.
With this in mind, our London office recently launched “The Freedom Movement,” a new citywide campaign for the SAYL Chair—which features a frameless backrest designed to move with you. If you’re in London and happen upon one of our new ads (like the one above), snap a picture and send it our way.
Good design solves a problem. But how does a designer know which problem to solve? For Jeff Weber, a personal experience related to a foot injury made it clear there was a problem with standard-issue crutches.
After just two days of hobbling around, Weber was suffering from “an all-out assault” on his body. Sore armpits, irritated skin, and numb hands, stemming from nerve compression and restricting blood flow, were impeding his recovery. Clearly a problem to be solved.
Familiar with ergonomics, Weber set out to design a crutch with mobility in mind. Looking to reduce secondary injuries, conserve physical energy, and improve the overall recovery experience, the final design of Mobilegs looks more like a distant cousin of the Aeron chair than a traditional crutch. (Weber worked alongside Aeron designer Bill Stumpf and co-designed the Embody work chair.)
One of the most striking differences is the under-arm saddle. A pliable membrane sling provides suspended support, not unlike the suspension seat of Aeron, and articulates on two pivot points to keep the saddle in constant contact with the underarm. The single-component structure of the shaft “facilitates a better hip-to-hand clearance,” explains Weber, and “allows the walker to move through doorways and narrow passages more easily.”
Had designer Jeff Weber never hurt his foot, the plight of crutch users around the world may have gone unnoticed.
Our bodies aren’t designed to stay in one position for long periods of time—sitting or standing. Studies have found back injuries are as likely for those who sit all day as those who stand. That’s why we encourage people to do both throughout their day.
Changing your posture as you work—from sitting to standing to sitting again—is the best way to keep your spine healthy and body happy. At first, it may take some practice to remember to keep moving, but once you do, it will become second nature. You’ll feel better and work better.
Are you getting the most out of your work chair? If you’re not sitting properly, then there is a good chance that you are not.
Just as you were scolded for slouching at the dinner table as a kid, you should be warned against slouching in your chair at work. It’s bad for your back: distorting your spine into an unhealthy “C” shape that puts pressure on the intervertebral discs. This contributes to back pain and general discomfort.
How can you sit better? The first step is to sit back in your chair—all of the way back. Make sure that your back is making contact with the chair’s backrest. This better supports your spine and helps you receive the full benefits of an adjustable work chair. Give it a try, you’ll feel better.
Our bodies have a way of letting us know when they’re feeling uncomfortable. Stiff shoulders, sore neck, back pain, and eyestrain are all messages telling us that we’re are not working right.
Technology can be the culprit, forcing us into unhealthy postures. Laptops are wonderful; we’re untethered and free to work from anywhere. But that laptop screen is likely too low for everyday use. Before you know it, your neck is craning and your shoulders are hunched; you’ve become what Cynthia Roe Purvis, Ergonomics R&D Director at HP, calls the “Turtle.” You might even be sitting like a turtle right now and not even know it.
The key to comfort is listening to our bodies. Don’t stay in one posture for too long: sit, stand, and stretch, move around throughout the day. Combined with an ergonomic support tool like a Lapjack to lift your laptop’s screen to the proper height and an external keyboard, and in no time you’ll be feeling better. Your body will thank you for it.
In the 1970’s, designer Bill Stumpf sculpted foam to comfortably support people while they work—creating the first ergonomic task chair. He introduced ergonomics to our industry.
Since then, Herman Miller and its designers have continued to find innovative solutions, but have never forgotten that design begins with people. Not just their physical attributes, but their behaviors as well. We study the purpose of their work and their postures and movements. Design follows.
Barry Sonnenfeld, director and Digital Man blogger, sits astride a wheeled saddle to scurry around film sets. Forget the clichéd canvas director’s chair, he cherishes his makeshift saddle-on-wheels, a creation of the Men in Black 2 crew that’s since been modified with “drawers for scripts, water, and prescription medication” for his sciatica.
Where he’s all about moving on the set, Billy Wilder, a director from an earlier generation who did films such as Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, opted for catnaps on set. In 1955, while filming The Spirit of St. Louis, he started taking naps on a narrow plank held up by sawhorses. Wilder later told his friends Charles and Ray Eames he needed something similar—but a bit more comfortable—for his office.
They came up with a slender, armless chaise with a built-in wakeup call. It required Wilder to lie on his back with his arms folded over his chest. Once he dozed off, his arms relaxed, dropped to his side, and gently awakened him. We began making the chaise in 1968, and it’s been in the line ever since.
We’ve added other pieces in the ensuing years. And Sonnenfeld puts three of them through their paces in his search for the right furniture for working in the editing room: the Embody and Aeron chairs and the Envelop desk. Get his read on them, and then check them out for yourself.
Photo: Barry Sonnenfeld is an Emmy-winning television director and the director of Get Shorty and the upcoming Men in Black 3.
A “new” trend is emerging among workers in Silicon Valley: the standing desk. We know sitting all day is not ideal for the human body. The low physical workload and rearward rotated pelvis puts you at risk for back pain. Not to mention, excessive sitting slows your metabolism and can even negatively affect cholesterol levels.
But the truth is, standing all day isn’t any better. In fact, the high workload placed on the body while standing is equally as harmful as the inactivity in sitting.
What the body wants is movement. Alternating from sitting to standing several times throughout the day reduces the chance of back pain and improves circulation. Both are essential to productivity.
The standing desk is far from a new concept. In the 1960s, designer George Nelson developed the first stand-up, roll-top desk for the Action Office line. We continue to encourage movement in all our furniture. Everywhere and Envelop tables enable multiple height-adjustments. Paired with a work chair, you can sit, stand, and move, all of which will help you feel better and work better.