Let’s be honest. We all know there are a lot of things about modern life that are not good for our health.
Spending hours of each day sitting down, hunched over a computer, both for work and pleasure, is definitely one of those things. Working from home (like many of us during the COVID-19 crisis)? You are probably spending even more quality time with your computer than normal.
While reducing the amount of time we spend doing these activities is one way to reduce their negative effects on us, this is not necessarily the most realistic or welcome solution.
Another way to reduce the damage caused by spending hours in front of the computer working and, let’s admit it, gaming, is to invest in ergonomic equipment to minimize the impact on our bodies.
But what is ergonomics? How does it improve our health while at the computer? And how can you integrate it into your home office and gaming spaces? Read on as we answer all these questions and recommend our top products for making your home office and game den ergonomically friendly.
Ergonomics And Why It Matters
Our bodies are designed to work in a certain way. Knees bend in a certain direction, ankles have a certain turning circle, wrists have a range of motion, and backs have a preferred alignment. When we respect our design specs, we can do more with our bodies, and our bodies feel better.
But it is a sad fact that most of the tools we use were not designed with our body’s functionality in mind. We compromise on our body’s optimal way of working in order to make these tools work.
While this isn’t such a big deal every now and again, when we compromise our bodies like this repeatedly and for extended periods of time, we can do serious, long-term damage to our health.
While ergonomics is a term that has been around since the start of the 20th century, we have only started talking about it seriously in the last 20 to 25 years. It is only then that specialists began to understand the impact that the tools we use regularly are having on our bodies and our health, and they started promoting the idea that we should design tools to support the optimal working on our bodies, rather than compromise our bodies to make our tools work.
This is when we started to see the emergence of special pillows designed to align our necks when sleeping, lifting equipment designed to help us lift from the legs rather than the back, chairs that force us to sit up straight rather than slouch, and vertical mice that allow us to control our computers without misaligning our wrists.
While these tools can sometimes appear strange because they are not what we are used to, the use of ergonomic tools have been shown to reduce fatigue, muscle soreness and stiffness, repetitive strain injuries, and headaches, and they just leave us feeling better in general.
Do you need more reasons to start upgrading some of the tools you use daily to ergonomic tools?
Best Ergonomic Tools For Your Home Office
Considering the amount of time we spend working, work tools, in particular, need to be ergonomic. When we are in the office, there is often someone responsible for this who will spend time observing workstations and researching the best equipment for happier and healthier workers.
When we are at home, we are the person responsible for ensuring our home office is ergonomic-friendly.
Those of us who are working at home temporarily as a result of COVID-19 might think that this is not something worth investing in, as it will only be a few weeks or a few months (who knows). It won’t do too much damage to your body if you work from your couch or use that old mouse that has been hanging around the house since 1995, right? Wrong.
Depending on your individual health, and how bad the equipment you are using is for your body, you can feel the effects after just a few days. And if you do find yourself with repetitive strain injury, it can take more than two weeks for your tendons to even start rebuilding and for the healing process to begin.
Now is the time to ensure that your home office is ergonomically designed for your body as we list and recommend the best ergonomic tools.
Best Ergonomic Chair
We recommend the Flash Furniture Ergonomic Office Chair as the best affordable ergonomic office chair.
Let’s start with the humble office chair, probably the most important piece of ergonomic equipment you can have in your home office.
First and foremost, sitting in the wrong position can impact the alignment of your spine, leading to soreness, hunching, and headaches. Sitting incorrectly also prevents oxygen from moving around the muscles correctly; this includes blood flow to the brain. So, using a chair that lets you sit correctly means that your body feels better and also allows you to think better and for longer.
A good ergonomic chair should have:
- An adjustable backrest that allows you to sit straight while still reaching everything you need without slouching.
- Lumbar support to support where the lower back curves inwards near the base of the spine, allowing you to rest this part of your back comfortably.
- Adjustable armrests that allow you to rest your arms with your shoulders in a relaxed and neutral position. If your armrests are not good, you are likely to lean forward and rest your arms on the table, which is bad.
- Adjustable height, as not everyone is the same size, and for optimum blood flow through the lower part of your body; you want your knees at 90 degrees parallel to the hips and your feet flat on the floor.
- Adjustable seat depth so you can sit back in the chair and make use of the back support that it offers. There should be half a centimeter (about ¼ of an inch) distance between the edge of the seat and the back of the knees.
- An adjustable headrest that can help reduce strain on the neck when working for long periods.
- The ability to swivel and roll so you move around your workstation easily without needing to twist your body into uncomfortable positions.
- Made with fabric that is breathable and does not irritate the skin.
With these features in mind, we think the Flash Furniture Ergonomic Office Chair is the best affordable ergonomic office chair you will find. It has excellent support for the back from the head to the lower spine, and it is fully adjustable so you can get it in the exact right ergonomic position for you. It is also made from a highly breathable material, which leaves you comfortable regardless of the temperature.
You can find our list of 10 other high quality and affordable ergonomic office chairs here.
Best Ergonomic Workstation
We recommend the Flexpro Power 40 Inch Electric Standing Desk as the best ergonomic workstation.
But it is not just our work chair that can have a positive or negative impact on our posture. The position of our screen, keyboard, and mouse can have a huge influence. If we need to lean forward to reach what we need, or we need to slouch or stretch to see our computer at a good level, we can undermine the support that our chair is trying to give us.
This is why it is not a great idea to say “I’ll just work on my laptop at home.” Because the screen is attached to the keyboard, for most people, having your keyboard at the right distance for typing means that the screen is too close and too low. The first is bad for your eyesight; the second is bad for your back as you lean forward or dip your neck in order to read better.
This is why it is good to have a separate keyboard and/or separate screen when working on a laptop for extended periods of time.
But just plugging in another screen and putting it on top of your desk won’t make a huge difference. In general, you need to elevate the screen so it is at a comfortable eye level. This is where workstations come in.
These are frames you put on top of your desk that allow you to set your screen and keyboard on different levels. They are great for elevating a screen if you are working while sitting, and they are also great for changing the elevation of your screen if you want to work while standing (more on this later).
A good ergonomic workstation will be:
- Adjustable both in terms of adjusting the height between your keyboard and screen based on your heart and shifting to a standing working position if you so wish.
- Durable enough to hold your full work kit; for example, two screens on your monitor shelf.
- Large enough so the shelves can hold all the necessary equipment and you don’t need to be bending down to pick up anything essential.
- Easy to adjust so you don’t do your back in while trying to change the level.
We recommend the Flexpro Power 40 Inch Electric Standing Desk as the best option on the market. It is fully adjustable up to standing position, and it is large and strong enough to hold everything that you might need. Plus it is incredibly easy to install.
You can find our full list of quality ergonomic workstations here.
Best Ergonomic Keyboard
We think that the Perixx PERIBOARD 512W Ergonomic Split Keyboard is the best ergonomic keyboard for your home office.
Next up, the keyboard. There is much more to an ergonomic keyboard than just having it the right distance away. While traditional keyboards are designed for our hands, they are not ergonomically designed for our hands.
If you rest your palms on the table while typing, you are forced to hold your wrists up at an angle while typing. The typical keyboard also forces you to close your elbows and bring your hands close together in order to be able to reach all the keys.
The keyboard also seems to think that all of your fingers are the same length and that you can reach the numerals with your middle finger and your pinky just as easily. If your keyboard is a bit heavy or sticky, the force you need to apply to click the keys repeatedly can also do damage to the nerves in your fingers.
Ergonomic keyboards are designed to solve a lot of these problems. Common features of a good ergonomic keyboard include:
- Palm and wrist rests allow you to rest your hands at an angle where you can reach the keyboard without having to flex the wrists significantly.
- Tiltable so you can adjust the angle of the keyboard for the same reason.
- A split design so you can have the two halves of the keyboard further apart and hold your arms at a more comfortable angle.
- A curved keyboard design that aligns the relevant keys more accurately with the varying length of our fingers.
- Mechanical keys that require less pressure to engage.
We think that probably the best ergonomic keyboard you can get is the Perixx PERIBOARD 512W Ergonomic Split Keyboard. It is a mechanical keyboard with split keys, but it is still in one piece so that it is less confusing for those who are unaccustomed to a fully split keyboard.
You can find our full list of the best ergonomic keyboards here.
Best Ergonomic Mouse
We think that the best ergonomic mouse for most home offices is the Peripheral Logix Oystermouse.
The humble mouse is also a major ergonomic issue in the office. The traditional mouse requires us to move our wrist in an unnatural side-to-side motion in order to adjust the cursor on the screen. With long-term use, this causes excessive strain on the wrist, and it is one of the leading causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is why there is now a craze for vertical mice that you use holding your hand on the side. You then move the mouse from the elbow, and you use a more natural up and down motion of the wrists rather than side to side.
A good ergonomic mouse will also have sensitive buttons in the right position that are easy to click and are responsive to help you get your cursor where you want it the first time. Picking up your mouse and banging it on your desk in frustration isn’t good for you or your mouse.
The biggest problem with ergonomic mice is they do take some getting used to when you are accustomed to using a traditional mouse, and they are usually for either right or left-handed people. While you might think that doesn’t matter, if someone who writes with a different hand to you wanders over to your desk to show you something, you might be out of luck.
This is why we think that the Peripheral Logix Oystermouse is the best ergonomic choice for your home office. It follows the style of a traditional mouse, so it is instinctive to use, and you can turn it up to a vertical angle on either side, making it ambidextrous. This makes it versatile, so that pretty much anyone can use your mouse.
You can find our full list of the best ergonomic mice here.
Best Ergonomic Desk
We recommend the VIVO Electric Height Adjustable Workstation as the best ergonomic desk for any home office.
The final, but not least important element of our home office set up is our desk. You might think that once you have everything else in place, you can use pretty much any desk. But again, choosing the right desk can make a significant difference.
What are the main considerations?
The first is size. You need to have space to not only accommodate everything that you need but to place it all at the right distance. And remember, this is not just your computer. There is your phone, important papers, your coffee, and the other things you use to make your office space feel welcoming. But the desk shouldn’t be too big, as you don’t want to be stretching regularly to reach important things.
The next consideration is height. Just like your office chair needs to be at the right height for you, so does your office desk. You need to be able to fit your knees under comfortably and have your keyboard and mouse at just the right height. This is why adjustable desks are always a good choice.
You probably also want a desk that allows you to switch between sitting and standing. While standing to work all day may be a bit tiring, spending significant portions of your workday in a standing position has been shown to have significant health benefits. It may lower the risk of weight gain, lower blood sugar levels, lower the risk of heart disease, and reduce back pain. Research also suggests that it puts people in a better mood.
So, a desk that allows you to easily move from a sitting to a standing position while working could transform your health and your workstyle. This usually means an electric desk with a motor to raise and lower the desk and a memory function, so that once you find the right height, you can return to it every time.
We recommend the VIVO Electric Height Adjustable Workstation, as unlike most of its competitors, it offers a large working space. The electric motor is intuitive and silent so you can switch between standing and sitting at the click of a button.
Best Ergonomic Tools For Play
Of course, work is not the only thing we do in our home office. For those who like gaming, it often doubles as an area for play. This makes the ergonomic set up of your office even more important, as it significantly increases the amount of time you spend there.
But you do need slightly different ergonomic equipment when it comes to gaming. Generally, your computer hardware, such as your mouse and keyboard, need to be higher spec, and it can be difficult to find tools that are both ergonomic and have top-end gaming specs. Your chair also needs to be a bit different, as we do tend to sit differently when working and when gaming.
So, let’s have a look at what you need if your home office is also your home gaming center.
Ergonomic Gaming Chair
We recommend the Homall Ergonomic High-Back Racing Chair as the best option for your home gaming center.
While you will generally want all the same features in an ergonomic gaming chair as you do in an ergonomic office chair, there are also a few extra things you should be looking for.
First, you are more likely to slouch around in this chair, so the headrest becomes much more important, as does the lower back support, which should also be adjustable and removable.
You probably also want your back support to spread out more to the side of your body in a kind of winged shape. This is because you are more likely to move around in your chair, and this helps to keep you comfortable and secure.
You will probably also want your gaming chair to tip back further than a normal chair, possibly as far as 180 degrees. And when you are in this position, a footrest to support the weight of your feet so they are not left dangling is important.
For these reasons, we recommend the Homall Ergonomic High-Back Racing Chair as the best home gaming chair. It has superior back support design, tilts to 180 degrees, and has a sturdy and functional footrest that is easy to deploy and fold away.
You can find our full list of the best ergonomic gaming chairs here.
Ergonomic Gaming Desk
We recommend the Sedeta Gaming Desk as the best ergonomic home gaming desk.
Your ergonomic gaming desk is again going to match many of the features of your work desk. It should be the right size to manage all your gear, the right height for you to sit comfortably, and preferably adjustable so you can spend some of your gaming time standing up, for all the same reasons why it is a good idea to spend some of your working time standing.
For a gaming desk, however, you will probably want something bigger and stronger. This is because you are likely to have a larger screen and need more space for other equipment such as speakers (and snacks, of course).
The VIVO Electric Height Adjustable Workstation is still a fantastic choice, but we actually recommend the Sedeta Gaming Desk. It is large at 47 inches and also has a lower level, which is ideal for supporting speakers close but in a way that does not block your vision.
Ergonomic Gaming Keyboard
We recommend the Mistel MD600 Split Mechanical Keyboard as the best ergonomic gaming keyboard.
When it comes to a gaming keyboard, you are pretty much looking for all the same things that you are looking for in a work keyboard, and maybe a few more.
First and foremost, a split keyboard is genuinely the best bet, as for many games you will play more comfortably if you can put your mouse in the middle of your keyboard. Second, while a mechanical keyboard is a good option for the office, it is essential for games where you need lightning-fast responsiveness.
If you like to game with your keyboard on your lap, being wireless may be another priority. If you do go wireless, make sure you get a powerful 2.4G connection so that there is no lag time.
We think that the best ergonomic keyboard for gaming might be the Mistel MD600 Split Mechanical Keyboard. It is a 60 percent split, which is better for gaming, and has super-fast Cherry MX Brown Mechanical Switches for raid response. All the keys are also fully customizable, and it has memory for three settings if you want to create different profiles for different games.
Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
We recommend the ZLOT Vertical Ergonomic Gaming Joystick Mouse as the best ergonomic gaming mouse.
Again, when it comes to an ergonomic gaming mouse, you are looking for a few extra features on top of your standard ergonomic work mouse. Key features include a joystick function to support particular games, customizable keys, and saved profiles so you can have different settings for different games.
Our favorite ergonomic gaming mouse is the ZLOT Vertical Ergonomic Gaming Joystick Mouse. It has the vertical ergonomic design to support your wrist, plus five buttons and a joystick, which are all customizable and you can make various game profiles.
You can find more affordable gaming mice here.
It is in our best interest to look after the long-term health and integrity of our bodies. We only get one. And the things we do today that might not seem like a big deal, but they could have a huge impact on how we feel and our mobility when we are older.
One of the worst things for our bodies that many of us do is spending hours every day sitting in a not particularly comfortable chair, crouched forward over our keyboard and monitor in a way that damages the back, while using a keyboard and mouse in a way that can permanently damage our hands and wrists.
If we don’t want to stop this activity, but we do want to minimize the damage that it does on our bodies, we need to invest in ergonomic tools to support our activity, whether we are working or gaming.
When preparing your home ergonomic work and/or game space, the most important ergonomic tools you need are:
- a comfortable chair that supports good posture and blood flow;
- a workstation setup that puts the keyboard and screen at the right levels and allows you to alternate between sitting and standing work;
- a keyboard that is designed to complement the natural shape of your hand and reduce the impact on your fingers; and
- a mouse that minimizes the unnatural use of your wrist that can result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Investing a little in these tools will make a huge difference to how you feel after a long day of work (or gaming) and how your body feels in the future.
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