This month we want to share some information with you about healthy ergonomics. Ergonomics is the science of adjusting a work environment to fit your physical needs depending on your body’s deficiencies and work space. According to the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors, ergonomics is “the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, system and environment for human use.”
This topic is applicable and extremely beneficial to all of you. One of the most common areas where ergonomic principles should be implemented is at desk jobs. This will be my main focus today. The so-called “normal” pains of daily life are surely preventable, and I trust that this information will motivate you to take action to take care of your body!
What’s the problem?
The subject of ergonomics is one that is being more frequently addressed by employers. As postural problems become more prominent, awareness is increasing. Many companies are discovering that an employee’s performance is negatively affected due to pain and discomfort and that poor ergonomics are contributing to poor performance. When people are in pain, their energy drains. Focus and concentration becomes limited when the body is distracted by discomfort
Musculoskeletal issues have almost become the norm. This should not be the case. Certain sitting positions, the height of your eyes in relationship with the monitor, and how far you have to reach to contact your keyboard or mouse are all factors that can cause serious pain if you’re not positioned correctly.
Ergonomists are trained professionals, who evaluate work environments and adjust them to fit the needs of their clients. They are technicians who can fit people to achieve a proper seated position, desk and monitor height, and placement of the keyboard and mouse to avoid muscle strain.
Ergonomically correct setups can help to prevent pain and long-term damage to the body. In addition to a correct ergo setup, correct posture is also necessary. Becoming accustomed to sitting in a a slouched position is extremely detrimental to your spine. Take a look at this diagram as an example of the proper way to sit.
New Ergonomic setups
The increasing number of low back pain cases have put pressure on the ergonomic industry to develop a wider variety of options for people in their diverse work situations. These newer developments include a standing desk that can adjust to a seated position when needed. Also, if an office worker would like to burn some calories while working, treadmill desks have also been developed. How about that? Would you like to walk 3 miles per day without ever leaving your office? As a person adapts to walking, or even just taking the time to exercise throughout the day, their circulation improves. In contrast, being seated for long hours cuts off circulation.
Achieving good posture
Although sitting properly is surely a key aspect of maintaining good posture, we face a great challenge. Everybody obviously wants a “quick-fix”, but switching to an ergonomically correct chair may not actually correct poor posture. The key to avoid dysfunction and relieve pain is to have proper posture to begin with.
If you want to correct your postural flaws, two vital steps are corrective exercise and stretching. This will help mobilize and properly build your muscles. A stable core and strong deep spinal muscles in your back are what is needed to maintain correct posture. They must be functioning properly or re-trained to hold your body in proper alignment. If your healthy posture-promoting muscle groups are not in action, it won’t matter how great or expensive one’s ergo setup is. Pain and discomfort will still be present as the actual problem has not been corrected.
Consider having a professional ergonomist evaluate your work station. Assess your own set-up using the diagram above. Look for functional and inexpensive options such as switching out your chair for an exercise ball. This is one of our favorites since the ball can be used for stretches and exercises right at the workstation. Have a basic set of movements that you can use regularly to keep your body flexible throughout the day. I speak from experience when I say that taking time to stretch is refreshing and energizing. Bu taking time to do this, I am able to work more efficiently!
As I said before, although healthy ergonomics are vitally important, good posture is corrected by re-training your postural muscles through exercise. Are you interested in correcting your posture and being free of frequent or chronic pain? A full spinal assessment is a great way to find out why you have pain and learn steps you can take to correct it. I hope that you understand that you don’t have to live with pain. We would love to assist you by offering help in this area.
“Keep on moving!”
Luis Ponce Sr.