For a more complete discussion about Kitchen design and cooking with ergonomics in mind, please read our feature article: "Someone's In the Kitchen" (PDF).
- Place heaviest pots and pans on mid-level shelves and light items on lower levels.
- Use a sit-stand chair at the counter for frequent chopping and cutting.
- Use tools (e.g., knives, spoons, can opener) with a wide, comfortable grip. Good Grips by OXO (www.oxo.com), makes many kitchen utensils which reduce the possibility of strain injury while performing kitchen tasks. To see all products and order online, visit their website. These utensils are also available from many cooking catalogues and cooking supply stores.
When opening tight lids, use a towel or jar opener to improve grip and reduce pressure on your hand. Available on Amazon.com and other websites. $9
There are also small electric jar openers that do all the work for you without straining the wrists like the Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener that opens jars with just the push of a button. It is small enough to fit into a kitchen drawer, too. Available on Amazon.com and other websites. $35
Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener
Look for other gadgets and tools that take the strain and forceful repetitive motion out of cooking. The Paderno World Cuisine apple peeler, corer, slicer looks like most other brands, but the quality of the product makes it much easier to operate. Available from Paderno.com or Amazon.com. ($55)
Paderno World Cuisine
apple peeler, corer, slicer
- Be aware of your posture! Although a soft, cushy lounge chair sounds comfortable, a firmer, more supportive chair or sofa is better for your back.
- If lower back support feels inadequate at home or in your car, try adding a small pillow or rolling up a towel for additional lower back support.
For more information on the importance of seating, please read our Feature Articles on Chairs.
For specific suggestions on seating options, please visit our Seating products page.
There are several good products available to retrofit your car or office chair. Please visit the car/chair support section of our Seating products webpage.
- When picking up or working with items at floor level, bend your knees and/or work with one knee resting on the floor using a kneeling pad.
- Use cleaning tools with long handles and use a stepstool to avoid poor back and shoulder postures whenever possible. OXO (www.oxo.com), makes many cleaning tools which reduce the possibility of strain injury while performing cleaning tasks.
- Read our article on tool use and task planning to learn about ways to reduce strain on your body while performing cleaning tasks. Cleaning is not quite the same as tool use, but has a lot of similarities.
- Please read our article on Ergonomics for Crafts.
- Choose hobbies or activities that are in balance with your daily demands. For example, individuals who type all day should not spend too much time working or playing on computers at home; workers exposed to loud noises at work should avoid loud noises at home.
- Reading, model building, painting, crocheting, sewing and needlework are all hobbies which require frequent breaks. Rest your eyes and/or change posture frequently.
- Please read our Feature Article on Gardening for lots of ideas on how to garden pain-free!
- If you plan on spending weekends pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, raking leaves and digging in flower beds, it is recommended that you exercise during the week to maintain strong muscles. This will help the weekend gardener avoid injuries.
- Rest on one knee or all fours when working at ground level; do not bend your spine.
- Use gardening knee pads to reduce stress on your knees and back.
- Hand and wrist intensive weeding and pruning should be rotated with mowing or raking to help reduce ergonomic stressors.
- Try to space out yard work over several days to avoid fatiguing muscles.
- Use a ladder or step stool when working on high bushes, tree limbs or fences to avoid reaching.
- While shoveling, follow the basic principles of proper lifting:
- Keep the load close to your center of gravity
- Keep your back in a neutral posture position
- Use your legs to lift the load
- Pivot your feet when you throw or place a load; don't twist your spine.
- Use side to side motions to reduce twisting, and keep the rake close to your body to avoid reaching.
- OXO (www.oxo.com), makes several tools which reduce the possibility of strain injury while performing hand weeding and digging tasks.
For specific information about avoiding overuse injuries in your favorite sports, please visit our Feature Articles section of this website.
- Always warm-up before beginning physical activities, especially sports. Stretching should not be done until after exercise, if at all.
- Ensure sports equipment is in good condition. This will help avoid the potential for ergonomic injuries associated with extreme force, high repetition and poor posture.
For help with bike fitting, in the Bay Area see:
the Bike Connection
2011 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
- If you sleep on your stomach, consider laying a pillow between your hips and shoulders to reduce the arch in your back. Place a small pillow under your head to improve neck alignment.
- If you sleep on your back, try placing a small pillow under your knees to help your back maintain its natural posture.
- When sleeping on your side, consider resting your top leg on a pillow in front of your body. This will reduce stress on your back.
- Mattresses that are soft for the first few inches and then become firm help the spine maintain its normal curves while providing necessary support.
- Pillows should support the natural curve in the neck. The Trillow Biogreen contour pillow, available from Relief Mart http://www.reliefmart.com ($149) is made of a memory foam which immediately molds to the shape of your head, provides superior support for your neck and head, and contains no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that other memory foam pillows contain.
- Stretching before bed and upon waking up will help reduce stress and discomfort.
- When working under the hood, lay your body weight against the car and use one hand for support.
- Avoid bending over the car for extended periods of time. Rest on one knee to work on lower areas.
- When painting over shoulder level, use a ladder to avoid over extending your back.
- Use extensions for painting equipment to reduce reaching.
- Avoid painting large areas while standing in one spot. This can force you to repeatedly bend and twist.
- Do not hold the paint can in your hand. Use a shelf or support to hold the can.
- Read our Feature Articles on Tools and Tool Use for ideas on how to work pain-free.
- Elevate your work to waist level to reduce the need to bend over.
- Rest on one knee when work is at floor level. Knee pads or a cushioned mat will make this more comfortable.
- Utilize power tools whenever possible to eliminate repetition.
- Whenever performing repetitive work, take short breaks to stretch and rest your hands, shoulders, back and legs.
- OXO (www.oxo.com) makes several tools such as hammers, pliers, and screwdrivers which reduce the possibility of strain injury while performing carpentry and similar tasks. Project Home Tools make lighter weight, smaller tools with good design and cushy grips that are scaled to smaller hands.