As mentioned in my earlier blog regarding postural assessment, many of us are aware the role “bad posture” can have on causing aches and pains but what can we do about it if we have to sit down for long periods of time at a desk or work in awkward positions as part of our job?
Ergonomics is the scientific study of people and their working conditions with the aim of improving efficiency. It often involves the production of specialist equipment or adaptions to workplaces in order to enhance the work of the employee and reduce exposure to any work hazards. There are many different types of ergonomic equipment on the market all with wild claims of reduced wrist or back pain if you buy them. This may be true, but the majority of people have all the right equipment at their disposal but are unsure how to correctly use it or its incorrectly setup. As mentioned previously, habits and positions we adopt in the day are just a contributing factor to pain and likewise it is not just a case of getting the latest ergonomic keyboard and you will never have wrist pain. The rest of the desk setup as well as the job task is important and needs to be considered.
The main hazard office workers are subject to is the repetitive nature of their work (sitting in the same position working on a computer for 10+ hours a day 5 days a week). Putting it like this, you can see how not sitting in an optimal position or if you overreach for your mouse can have a detrimental effect on your muscles and ligaments over time.
An ergonomic assessment can be carried out by a physiotherapist or someone trained in ergonomics and is recommended for all employees upon starting a new role. Ideally you want to pre-empt an injury or pain and an ergonomics assessment can identify and modify any risk factors that may cause an injury over time. More often than not, small adjustments to your current workstation are all that is required to reduce poor loading and optimise your position at your desk, reducing the risk of injury caused by chronic fatigue.
Ideally an ergonomics officer would carry out the assessment in your workplace so adjustments can be made on the spot, however this is not always an option. As part of your Physiotherapy treatment your therapist will enquire about your work habits and the demands made on your body on a day to day basis. A photo of you at your desk (from behind and sideways on) can often provide the therapist with a good idea how your workstation is setup. They can then advise you on small modifications that might improve your position and thus prevent chronic fatigue build up in muscles often culminating in pain.
At Perfect Balance we also offer corporate wellness packages for businesses so if this is something you think might be beneficial to you or your office please get in touch.