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Ergonomics is not an overly complicated matter. In fact, most of us already use basic ergonomic principles in our day-to-day lives without realizing it. Where do you store your coffee mug that you use every morning? Where do you fold your clothes before you go to bed? The answers to these questions are a result of basic habits and common sense as we are doing what is comfortable and easy for us.  

Where do you store your coffee mug?

This is one of the first things many of us grab in the kitchen every single morning. Do you find yourself bending down to grab it from the bottom cabinet? Or do you frequently find yourself balancing on your tippy toes trying to reach it on the top shelf? More likely, your favorite mug is stored on an accessible shelf within arm’s reach that you are easily able to grab each morning.  

Where do you fold your clothes before going to bed?

Whether you’ve chosen to utilize your bed for this daily task or some other surface, such as a dresser, you have likely chosen a location that places less demand on your lower back as you complete this task. Many of us conduct our daily chores in a manner that minimizes frequent bending and reaching to improve comfort for these repetitive and prolonged activities.  

With these subconscious decisions, you are, in fact, incorporating ergonomic principles into your daily routine. If something is used or done frequently, it makes sense that we want to store it and use it at an easily accessible height and distance. For most of us, this means storing frequently used or heavy items on shelves no higher than our shoulders, and no lower than our knees. Additionally, these items are likely kept within reach of our forearms for easy access. For standing work, like folding laundry, we are likely choosing work surfaces that enable us to be conducting our work at elbow height.   

By intuitively incorporating these ergonomic principles into our daily routines, we are making an effort to work within our postural and strength capabilities. Meaning, we’re minimizing prolonged and repetitive awkward postures and forceful exertions by the layout and design of our frequent daily activities.  

I always revert to: if it’s comfortable, keep it – if it’s awkward, fix it!