Many people get very excited when new “cutting-edge” products come out on the market. They believe that the right product will solve all their problems. Unfortunately this is rarely the case, resulting in disappointment and discouragement in the field of ergonomics.
The most important thing is to remember that ergonomic products should be fully adjustable to fit any user. Research before you buy and make sure adjustability is present. Another important feature is simplicity – the product has to be easy to use or it won’t be used effectively. And always, ergonomic products always should be accompanied by ergonomic training for full effectiveness.
As an example, ergonomic office chairs are only ergonomic if they can be adjusted fully. Many chairs are promoted as “ergonomic”, but in fact don’t have a lot of the required adjustments and rely more on a new look (e.g. different fabric, funky-looking headrests) A proper ergonomic chair would have backrest angle adjustment, backrest height, adjustable lumbar support, seat depth adjustment, and armrest height adjustment to name a few. But all the buttons and levers to make these adjustments usually confuse people and they end up not using the features that could be helpful. Ergonomic training on how to adjust your ergonomic chair is needed, and it needs to be reinforced consistently. Simplicity in the buttons and levers is also needed.
Some products over the past several years have been very beneficial ergonomically. Mice that allow your hand to rest in a handshake position takes the pressure off forearm muscles and the wrist/carpal tunnel. Keyboards without the numeric keypad on the right allows you to bring your mouse closer, reducing reaching and leaning with the right arm. These are especially helpful because the concept is simple and the amount of ergonomic training required to use these devices is minimal. To me, that’s the most effective type of ergonomic product around.