Desk chair life hack! Take a towel, fold it in half, roll it, mold it into a C and sit on it! It’ll help to hold your pelvis in place so you will end up having better posture for when you’re sitting. | Photo courtesy of Whitney Ogle

Kinesiology department teaches students about at-home ergonomics

A professor and her students collaborated to produce educational videos on ways to improve the work-life balance

Since the transition to a mainly virtual learning environment, people nationwide have felt the physical and mental tolls of it. Humboldt State students and faculty are no exceptions to this matter. A recent study by Dr. Whitney Ogle, a professor in the kinesiology department, found that HSU students were rating their mental health and physical wellbeings a three out of five or lower.

But Ogle has done more than that — she and her kinesiology students have been making a series of short videos that inform on different ergonomic practices centered around working at home. It all grew from Ogle’s desire to find an adequate physical working space to make it so her body would not be aching all the time.

Between switching out desk chairs and trying to work from different locations around her house, Ogle was doing everything she could to make her life more comfortable in a time where nobody could work in-person. But then it dawned on her — maybe she could turn her experiences into educational content.

“I knew that since everyone was going to working from home, everyone’s ergonomic workspace was going to be totally different and I didn’t know that there was anyone on campus who was able to actually evaluate people’s home life,” Ogle said. “So I thought ‘Gosh, like I have a little bit of this experience and I’m part of the biomechanics lab’ and so I was like ‘All right — we could probably help out the university somehow with their understanding of the human body.'”

Ricardo Sanchez is one of the students recruited by Dr. Ogle to help with this project. A first-year graduate student in the kinesiology program, he was tasked with coming up with a plan for executing such an endeavor.

“I was like ‘Everyone goes on social media. That’s one thing that people kind of have a hard time putting down so if anything wouldn’t that’d be pretty cool to spread information through there,'” Sanchez said. “It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can get a good amount of information in a little bit of time.”

Sanchez realized that creating informative videos to post on social media was the way to go. After presenting it to Ogle, he began working on the videos with other undergraduate kinesiology students like senior Lacey Bruhy-Jimenez, who most notably produced a video showcasing mini-resistance bands for your fingers.

“It helps to build up the muscles in your hands, because when you’re typing and stuff and when you’re constantly holding a pen or something, your muscles — they stay in that same place all the time, so they’re not experiencing the other movements that they can do,” Bruhy-Jimenez said. “These things just kind of help with those muscles that aren’t being used all the time to help build them up so that way they don’t get weak and you can have them for longer.”

Ogle stressed the importance of stretching your mind and body beyond the confines of a work station.

“We need to get ourselves out of the positions that we’re typically in all the time, so if we’re at a computer we’re like kind of leaning forward all the time,” Ogle said. “So like thinking about how can we get out into this plane, how can we go into more extension anytime that we’re out at the desk.”

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