IF YOU SIT AT WORK – THIS IS SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!
You have probably heard of the term “ergonomics” but may not understand how important this can be to you?
Ergonomics is simply matching the work to the worker….but it is slightly more complex than that.
I will give you 3 basic steps that will help you today…
1. Neutral posture results in the spine having the greatest mechanical advantage. Any deviation from this neutral posture will usually start with fatigue and culminate in injury and disability. Recognizing this progression early can help you prevent an injury.
NEUTRAL SITTING POSTURE:
A. Head balanced over the shoulders
B. Shoulders hanging loosely by your side
C. Elbows at 90 degrees and forearms comfortably resting on the armrests
D. Wrists in a neutral position
E. Lower back supported by lumbar support
F. Hips, knees and ankles should be not less than a 90 degree angle
G. Feet comfortably resting flat on the floor or on a foot stool
Awkward posture occurs when you deviate from neutral posture. The greater the deviation the greater the risk of injury. Neutral posture has the lowest muscle activity which will allow these positions to be held for a longer, thus improving your comfort.
2. The Injury Progression:
This is the normal progression of injury. If bad ergonomic habits are addressed early at the fatigue and discomfort level, the progression of symptoms can be reduced or eliminated.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS:
1. Persistent discomfort
2. Swelling, redness or warmth
3. Pinching sensation
4. Loss of grip strength
5. Decreased range of motion
6. Numbness, tingling
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs you need to make changes NOW to prevent more serious complications!
3. The most important thing you can do NOW is to change your posture and chair settings frequently.
Any static postures, or postures held for prolonged periods, even in Neutral Posture will result in:
• Reductions in blood flow
• Onset of fatigue
Regular changes in position can help to balance the need to move with the need to maintain certain postures to perform the tasks necessary. Routine position changes will increase your comfort by providing the muscles the opportunity to move thus allowing for recovery.
In poor posture, the muscles are working much harder resulting in a shorter time before fatigue sets in. Over time, this will ultimately result in injury.
1. Know what neutral posture looks like and feels like.
2. Know the signs of injury progression.
3. Move! Change postures frequently to prevent fatigue.
Stay tuned for more ergonomic blogs on “Seated exercises for your work station”, “Adjusting your chair for correct support” and “Do you have a good chair”.
Dr. David Peterson is owner and Clinic Director at Active Back to Health Centre in Chinook Centre, Calgary. He is a registered Doctor of Chiropractic with a Fellowship in Occupational Health and Rehabilitation. He has provided Ergonomic Assessments in the workplace for many years with a variety of different corporate clients including Canada Revenue Agency, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, etc. Contact Active Back to Health if you could benefit from an ergonomic assessment of your work station.