Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dear Ergo Diva #1

Ergo Diva addresses ergonomic keyboards and their effect on health and well being
High angle view table of student hands typing on laptop computer

Keyboards do’s and don’ts

This month, Ergo Diva tackles a great question that concerns many professionals who spend endless hours at their screens. As always, her focus remains the development of practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world.

Ergonomic Advice for the Weary Wristed

Dear Ergo Diva,
I’m in the midst of my capstone project and I’m transcribing about eight hours of interviews. I’m one interview down and I thought it might be wise to see if I could get an ergonomic keyboard for this project. I rarely type this much but I’m guessing I’ve got about 35 hours of fast typing ahead of me in the coming month.

Thanks for your help Ergo Diva!
Weary Wristed in San Diego


Dear Weary,

You are a wise woman to seek advice now, while you can still make positive change in your ergonomic setup before the brunt of the work. While an ergonomic keyboard is a great idea, there are some other ergonomic basics you can (and should!) implement to ensure that your hands won’t get swollen or sore when you’re doing intense keyboarding.

1.     Ergonomic Seating

Raise or lower your chair as needed to ensure that your elbows are level with your keyboard and your shoulders stay down and relaxed while you type.

2.     Ground Your Feet

Your hips and knees should be level as well and your feet supported. If your feet are not resting solidly on the floor (for example, dangling in the air or resting on your chair base), use a foot rest.

3.     Better Monitor Placement with Wireless

If you don’t have a separate monitor, Leave your laptop on your main writing surface, in your case, your dining room table and use a wireless keyboard and mouse on your lap. (See #4) This will help with proper ergonomics for your neck. Ideally, your head should be level with your laptop screen. Unless you wear bifocals or progressive glasses, in which case it should be lower with a relaxed neck angle.

4.     Out with the TV Dinners

There are some lightweight wedges or cushions you can put on your lap to stabilize your keyboard and mouse. You will be able to lower your chair, your feet will be flat on the ground, and you can relax your shoulders.  A “TV tray” is another lower solution.

5.     Drumroll please . . . Ergonomic Keyboard Options

Once you have all of those suggestions in place, you can focus on the right ergonomic keyboard for you. There are many options that are small and portable while still maintaining ergonomic balance. Some tips:

  • Wireless is great because it is easier to travel or work remotely without needing to deal with cords.
  • If embedded numbers work for you, they can allow for a smaller keyboard footprint.
  • If you get an ergonomic keyboard or a keyboard that splits and angles, only angle it as wide as your shoulders. (If you angle it too wide, it can force your elbows away from your side creating fatigue and awkward posture)
  • Get a keyboard that offers an easy touch. You don’t want to bang on the keys when typing. That will create too much pressure on your wrists and fingers and can cause swelling.
  • Often, using a standard keyboard and getting a roller mouse that fits in front of the keyboard is the more affordable and ergonomic solution. That way, you don’t have to extend your shoulder and arm when reaching for the mouse. Positioning your mouse in front of the keyboard allows a more neutral and relaxed body posture.
  • Also, a gel wrist rest goes a long way toward preventing your wrists from hanging off the front edge of the table. It keeps your wrists well supported and level when working on intensive projects. The goal is neutral and relaxed posture to help you plow through those 35 hours of speed typing.

Well, there you have it, my champion typist. Using ergonomics to create a positive working environment is always doable, regardless of budget and time constraints. And what’s even better than that is that these small tweaks in your surroundings can have amazing effects on your health and well-being.

Thanks for reaching out, enjoy the project, and remember to take breaks and stretch often. To your healthy posture and successful project!



Computer keyboard with Questions

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About Ergo Diva – Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

Ergonomic Solution of the Month: Conference Room Effectiveness

Glass door and window into conference room

Ergonomic Solutions for Conference Rooms

What if your conference room could be transformed into a space of not only meetings, but of effective communication: a space where people enter to meet and exit with results? Whether used for meetings, presentations, small events or video conferencing, the changes you make can set the tone for your intended use and can affect the outcome of your meetings. Making proper selection and use of ergonomic furniture can transform your conference room into a place of effective, creative, inventive decisions and actions.

Ergonomic Furniture with Goals

What can ergonomic furniture do for your conference room? It can create an environment that not only sets a tone for the space, but also keeps people awake, energized and alert.

Meetings can often last too long as it is; meetings in uncomfortable furniture can be endless. To provide an inviting environment for productive use of conference space, that empowers people and generates creative ideas and effective actions, consider these 7 factors:

1.    Conference Space Use

Before we get to the end results of keeping people comfortable (and awake), we first need to do our homework.

To create the conference room that delivers the results you need, the first step is to define how the room will be used and by how many people. Focus on its intended uses, not its current ones.

For example, some conference rooms are used for:

  • Ongoing intense use
  • Multiple quick meetings for different sized groups
  • All day educational sessions
  • Classroom setting
Ergonomic Solutions for team work

Ergonomic Solutions for team work


2.    Number of People in Meetings

With our goal in mind of creating a space where people enter to meet and exit with results, we need to understand how many people we need to accommodate.

Make sure to account for company growth and different types of setups for the room. For example, you may need 10 people in Board meetings but 20 in training sessions.

3.    Size of Conference Space

Last piece of homework:

If you are working with an existing room, measure it to determine its size. You will need this information to determine how many people you can accommodate in the space.

If your room has not been built out, determine how much space you will need. This link offers a quick calculator that will show you that a conference room setup for 10 people requires about 400 square feet, while a classroom setup for 20 people requires 480 sf.

Typically, a 20′ × 15′ conference room seats 10 to 12 around a table with space for additional seating; while a 30′ × 20′ room seats 20 to 22.

4.    Ergonomic Furniture: Table Selection

And now, the fun part! It is time to select the ergonomic furniture that will help serve our purpose.

When selecting your ergonomic furniture, consider using 2 or more tables that can easily reconfigure to a variety of settings. These tables come in various shapes and sizes and can help you comfortably accommodate the varied uses of the space.

Also, consider how many people will be available to set up the room before each meeting. Do you have a full custodial staff or will it be the responsibility of a single Office Manager? Some tables can nest into each other and have casters that allow one person to easily reconfigure.

Dragging tables around can create wear and tear on the furniture, the flooring, and the person responsible for setting it up.

A few tips for tables and ergonomic furniture selection:

  • Make sure there’s enough space for the knees (so people aren’t bumping into the center posts) and open leg space (so people do not have to straddle the table legs).
  • If you’re going to have people sit on both sides of the table, make sure there’s enough leg room or fit two tables side by side (i.e. 2-18” tables for plenty of leg space and easy re-configuration).
  • If your space needs to serve longer meetings, ensure there is enough room to be seated comfortably for long periods.

5.    Ergonomic Furniture: Chair Selection

Like in real estate, there is the “location, location, location” motto, in conference rooms, it is “chairs, chairs, chairs.”

One of the most important pieces of ergonomic furniture in any conference room is the chair. The seats you choose will impact productivity.

A few tips for chairs and ergonomic furniture selection:

  • Plan for space on each side of chair (approximately 4”- be sure to include the outside measurement of the arms) so that people are able to push back without hitting the wall behind or bumping into the person beside them.
  • A chair with arms can be comfortable when having conversational meetings. However, for work-intensive meetings the typical “conference style arms” are too deep and can force awkward postures for table use.
  • A chair that can swivel easily to focus attention on the presenter is the best choice. It should have seat height, swivel, rock and lock features. If you can get a height adjustable back, even better!
  • A 4-post chair with casters and glide combination is for economical while allowing easy movement. There are also chairs that easily nest into each other and don’t require lifting or stacking. They are easy to store when not in use.
  • Sled base chairs are heavy and awkward to move.
  • High back executive conference offers a sharp look. Seat depth adjustment or a shorter seat with height adjustable arms or ¾ chair arms offers people back support while working on mobile devices during those longer meetings.

6.    Equipment, Storage Needs

Chairs (chairs, chairs) are critical, but there are other important factors too. When planning your conference room, consider the types of presentations that will be made there. Is there a need for a lectern? What about a projector? Video conferencing equipment? What are your electronic and wiring needs?

Do you need storage room for refreshments, support items, tools, presentation needs?

7.    Environment

A final bit that will seal the deal in making your conference room a productive and effective space is planning its environment.

Make sure the room is well-ventilated and has temperature control to optimize the comfort (and attention!) of meeting attendees. Select your paint colors, artwork, and lighting to facilitate the goals of the room’s uses.

By considering these factors when setting up your conference room, you can shift the energy and effectiveness of the space and get the results you need from meetings, trainings, video conferences, and events.


About Karen Burke

Karen is founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions, products and office ergonomic consultations, since 1982.

Pregnancy Ergonomic Tools Testimonials


Real mom, real solutions - mom and newborn baby

Real moms, real solutions.

Mommy-nomics – New Mamas Singing Praises for Kare Products ergonomic tools for a healthier pregnancy!

Let’s face it, as women we are attracted to comfort during pregnancy. And that is the reason so many women are pleased to have been introduced to the Kare Pregnancy Wedge. While it is best known as a positioning pillow for a relaxed and deeper sleep, some of our customers have found that it’s a great support tool for sitting more comfortably. Kare Pregnancy wedge remains a favorite among Mother’s-to-be and Pre-Natal Massage Therapists. They especially love the fact that it’s portable and doesn’t take over the entire bed.

Here are some delightful testimonials we received lately:

The pregnancy wedge from Kare Products helped me find some comfort to sleep during my last trimester. I only wish I had one earlier in my pregnancy.

Casey Katona – Business Manager & New Mom


How Kare Products love my baby and me: 

My pregnancy was pretty average – filled with lots of joy, excitement, sore joints, and restless nights. My lower back was particularly in discomfort especially when sitting on couches or chairs with poor support.

 I had been using a Kare Chair (#817L) for work for over 13 years (it’s still in great shape) but my love for this chair only increased with my pregnancy. I was soon rolling it all over the house and swapping out the kitchen and dinning room chairs for my perfectly fitting Kare Chair (see photo). When I couldn’t be sitting in my Kare Chair it was the Kare Pregnancy Wedge Pillow (#33) to the rescue. I even carried it on a plane for my last flight at 32 weeks. I felt like the baby was always up in my ribs but the wedge helped improve my posture creating more space in my torso for my growing little one. Ergonomics is always important but I found it totally crucial during my pregnancy. Thanks Kare Products!

 PS That chair was the best High School graduation gift ever!! 

 Sonya Lauterbach Perez – Business Consultant & New Mom


Mom and baby on an ergonomic chair.

Sonya and Emil enjoying our ergonomic chair.


Michele Kolakowski specializes in Pre-Natal Massage and is the owner of Sanctuary Healing Arts LLC. Her expertise is maternity massage and birth doula services in Boulder County, Colorado She has designed and taught over 200 hours of pre-natal massage therapy instruction at schools, hospitals and spas nationwide. The Kare Pregnancy Wedge Pillow is a simple tool for neutral positioning of Moms-to-be during massage allowing easier access to alleviate stress and tension on overloaded joints as well as increasing circulation and mobility. Because of Michelles’ belief in the support our Kare Pregnancy wedge provides, we have received national recognition from Moms, Massage Therapists and Doctors. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm Michele!

Suggested Use:

 Left-sided side lying is the recommended position for sleeping, resting or massage

because lying on your side when pregnant places your body in a neutral posture. As the pregnancy progress, is a more comfortable positon allowing the body to rest deeper and you to relax more fully. Left-sided side-lying is also used for slowing down labor. When used for massage, the Kare Wedge Maternity Pillow offers comfortable positioning for better, deeper massages.

Left-Sided Lying is Key

Anatomically, the abdomen holds the uterus that is continually increasing as the baby grows. The Vena Cava located on the right side of your spine, is the main vein that drains the entire lower half of the body. As the baby gets bigger, and the uterus, gets heavier added weight on the Vena Cava can obstruct blood flow up towards the heart. Circulation for the lower half of the body can become sluggish, and may affect the swelling of your ankles, feet, and legs.

Why Choose Ergonomic Tools for a more comfortable Pregnancy

The goal is to increase circulation and support healthy neutral postures for resting by lying on the left side in a comfortable, supported posture. The Kare Pregnancy Wedge Pillows offer this – not to mention the compelling reason #1 reason – Get more sleep!

In ergonomics, we believe that neutral posture offers the least effort and the most comfort and ease for your body. Being more comfortable whether you’re using our Pregnancy Wedge or experiencing the comfort of our fully adjustable ergonomic chairs these tools can make a huge difference to your pregnancy.

Kare Products ergonomic tools for comfort and health – it’s our special way of taking care of new mom-s to-be!


About Karen Burke

Karen is founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions, products and office ergonomic consultations, since 1982.

Ergonomic Furniture is the New Black

Two girls wearing high heels

Fun and comfortable? Totally doable!

One of our New York customers recently declared, “Fashion is pain.” Being in the music production and broadcasting business in the Big Apple, she says “if it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t fashion.”

Then, she went on to declare that the ergonomic furniture pieces that are the greatest problem solvers for their company are like the “orthopedic shoes” of ergonomic seating.  That is: they are the tried and true, most comfortable and by far the most adjustable to fit a variety of bodies, the unsung working hero day in and day out.

While a fully adjustable chair should be the norm for every office, it can (and, we declare: should!) also be fashionable.

Ergonomic furniture that combines form and fashion for fashionistas? 

Totally doable.  You can be comfortable and still make bold statements.  You can take care of your health while selecting the fabric, the accessories, the mood, and the ambiance that will light up, pop out, embrace and surround you with the hip statement of ultimate cool. In short, today’s ergonomic furniture makes you feel good and look good.

Pretty woman sitting at her desk

Smart styling or stylish smart?

Designer Chair

There a dozens of designer chairs available in many shapes and sizes. Here’s the check list of functions that will make you feel your best:

  • Your chair’s adjustable back tilt is the most important adjustment you can have. Especially if you have low back pain or find yourself sitting on the edge of your chair because of the too-big seat and big loopy arms or the seat back always moving.   Make sure you can lock in the back angle you want.
  • Seat height adjustment is also key. You’ll want your ergonomic furniture to adapt to your latest pair of Stuart Weitzmans as well as your desk height.
  • A chair back should hug your body when you’re in a working position. Ideally, a form fitting chair back allows you to relax and makes you look your best.
  • Your seat depth adjustment needs to fit your leg length (allow a 2-4 finger space between the back of your knees and the front edge of your chair).

Moving Chairs

Some chairs have backs and seats that move all the time and declare they are easy on the back. Avoid these! Mainly because the chair does not support your upright posture and it puts a lot of pressure on the lower back.

Mesh Seating

If you are considering a mesh seat, here is an important reason to reconsider:

Many mesh seats have a plastic edge that hits the back of the knees causing compression. Such compression can lead to varicose veins, a big fashion (and health) no-no!  Instead, consider a stylish cushioned seat: 2 layer foam, please.

Ergonomic furniture with style: Desks

There are some ubercool desks out there.  I’m going to sing the glories of the ultimate sit to stand for the high fashion look and best health results.  There are lots of shapes and colors. Pick one that can adjust to your seated and standing height.

If you prefer to sit with a traditional desk or something that matches your furniture, here are some ideas that will make a terrific blend of looks and comfort.

  • Avoid or remove the pencil drawer. It forces your body into awkward sitting postures.  There are other places to store your must-have desk items.
  • Add a keyboard arm and platform with adjustable height so you can rest your feet on the floor and relax your shoulders while keyboarding.
  • Select from cool keyboards and mice that combine state-of-the-art design and health. The mice that fit in front of the keyboard reduce reaching shoulders.  Slumped shoulders are definitely not your best model pose, plus this selection will also get you tech envy points.
  • Make sure your mouse can fit right next to your keyboard and that it is at the same level as your keyboard (i.e., if your keyboard is on the keyboard tray, your mouse shouldn’t be on top of the desk).
  • Most desks are too high. When seated add support under your feet so your hips are level with your knees when seated. There are footrests that will even give you a foot massage while you’re working!
  • As your high-end designer footwear changes, you will need to vary the height of your footrest. Get something that changes easily and is height adjustable.
  • Use adjustable monitor arm(s) for height and width that is sleek and can be easily adjusted when you’re in a seated position that you can get close to you so you’re not leaning forward and putting pressure on your low back. You may need to add a grommet hole to the desk. All in the name of health.
  • Add cool designer desk task lighting that adds ambiance and reduces overhead and window glare and eye fatigue (we recommend one that fits your personality). For the ultimate, consider full spectrum lighting, especially if your space is darker. It’s easier on the eyes, reduces headaches, and makes you more alert and productive. It also balances your body chemistry to make you happier. And who doesn’t want to be a happy fashionista?
  • Accessorize with accent colors- your coffee mug, your pens, notebook, etc.
  • Set up the space to make your statement. Consider the whole space from ceiling, walls and floor all there for your imagination to go wild. If the office is small, mirrors help to enlarge the space.  Add fun art that makes you happy.  Silk or live plants to make a statement. If you need nature nearby, use nature sounds or add a fountain.  These can change from season to season or when the mood for change strikes.
  • Enjoy the wow factor!  For big fun, accessorize your outfits to coordinate with your office and smile on the inside knowing it’s your personal statement combining both fashion and comfort!
stylish businesswoman drawing business plan concept

Do business in style.

We spend a lot of time designing and accessorizing for fashion’s sake. New choices available in ergonomic furniture make fashion and well-being not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to wear Birkenstocks to be comfortable and your ergonomic chair doesn’t have to be ugly, because these days, ergonomics is the new black.


About Karen Burke

Karen is founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions, products and office ergonomic consultations, since 1982.