Ergonomics and YOU: 5 Strategies To Start
Updated: May 13, 2020
At FORMA we recognize that throughout the day you use different postures for carrying bags, sitting at a desk, gardening, or exercise. The common strategy for all that we strive to do is: maximize comfort, in order to minimize fatigue and the onset of body aches and pains. When you take time to pay attention to Ergonomics (the study of how people work in their environments) you can alleviate some of the wear and tear on your spine, joints, muscles and ligaments. At FORMA we teach you easy modifications for the simplest of daily interactions that provide protection for our body. Here are 5 ergonomic tips that you can work on today, remember to get a detailed evaluation by one of our clinicians to help customize your ergonomics -keep safe!
Ditch Your Back Pockets For The Front Ones.
Placing keys, credit cards or wallet in your back pocket creates a tilt (away from neutral) in your pelvic alignment. This tilt may be hard to see yourself, but a trained clinician can spot it right away and this tilt contributes to unbalanced postures when walking, sitting and other activities. Day in and day out this adds up to increase your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder. Keep your items in a front pant pocket where it is less likely to negatively influence the natural curves of the spine.
How To Choose a Backpack for the Gym, School or Leisure
Backpacks are known for their versatility but a potential downfall is that a heavy load encourages compressive postures. Over time this leads to muscle imbalance, neck pain, arm pain and even pinched nerves. Keep it light, wear it right, and familiarize yourself with this simple checklist:
Shoulder Strap: Avoid cross body bags for long durations. A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the neck, mid and lower back.
Sternum Strap: Will help to distribute some of the backpack weight across the chest, and prevents the shoulder straps from drifting onto the shoulder joint.
Waist Strap: Transferring the weight to your hips lets your stronger leg muscles, not your weaker shoulder muscles, do the heavy lifting.
Weight: A full backpack should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of the wearer’s body weight. Place the heaviest objects close to the body and light or odd-shaped objects away from the back.
Keep Your Wallet In The Front Pocket
Placing a wallet in your back pocket creates a tilt in the pelvic alignment. This tilt may not seem noticeable but it contributes to unbalanced postures when walking and sitting. Day in and day out this all adds up to increase the risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder. Keep your wallet in a front pant pocket where it is less likely to negatively influence the natural curves of the spine.
Be Aware Of The Technology You Use
It’s hard to believe our hand held devices can affect our body performance - we tend to associate tech with only the conveniences they device us. It is common to neglect ergonomics, and instead allow our phones/tablets/laptops to promote poor posture. For every inch of forward head posture, it increases the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds! So if you are slumping 3 inches from neutral spine posture it can add 30 pounds of unnecessary weight. Raise your cell phone to eye level, bring your head back, and squeeze your shoulder blades back and down. This simple posture reset move will protect your neck from wear and tear.
Ergonomics In The Office
The average adult spends 50-70% of the day sitting at work. There are serious health challenges associated with sedentary lifestyles. Taking time to review and correct the setup of your office space will protect your body from aches and pains. Follow this simple guide:
Chair: Adjust the height of the chair so that a 90 degree angle is created at the knee. Leave a 3 finger space from the edge of chair to back of the knee
Footrest: Utilize a binder, book, or step stool to rest your feet on. This will put slack in your leg, low back muscles, and decrease awkward pulling on the sciatic nerve.
Arm position: Neutral arm position is achieved with a 90 degree angle at the elbow. This will prevent chronic abnormal muscle tension in the wrist, arms and neck.
Low Back Support: After chair height is changed to achieve 90 degree angle at the knee with a 3 finger space, there may be a gap between the low back and backrest. Roll a towel in the shape of a log and place it in the low back region. This stabilization promotes upright posture.
Monitor: The monitor should be one arm’s length away from you to eliminate neck and eye strain.
Keyboard: Place on top of the desk in line with neutral arm position. The safest way for keying is a neutral wrist, (no tilt) or in a hanging position.
Gardening Is Exercise
Spring weather has many of us lugging bags of mulch into the yard. The most common injuries associated with gardening are back strains from lifting or reaching, and repetitive strain injuries in the wrist and elbow due to the planting action. Follow this simple guide:
Knee pads: Instead of bending, kneel on knee pads or on a kneeling mat with handles to decrease strain on the back, neck, leg muscles, and joints.
Tool Height: Minimize bending with a long-handled tool that is the correct length in proportion to your body.
Padded Handles: When purchasing tools, look for ergonomically designed items with padded handles to cushion hands, and prevent the need for a tight grip.
Do the “scissors” when you rake: Stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Switch legs and hands every few minutes.
Lifting Soil: When lifting bags of potting soil get close to the load before you lift. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, head up, knees bent, feet and body pointing in the same direction. Use your leg and arm muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load. Pivot with your feet and do not twist your body while carrying the load. Bend your knees to lower the load to its intended place.