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Desk Ergonomics: Prevention before Tension

Okay, if this headline caught your eyes, you’ve likely experienced some form of pain or discomfort during your workday. AND… you are probably wondering if your chair or desk set up could be contributing to the sore neck or back you’ve had the past few weeks.

Let’s dive straight into the common workplace postures I see when I’m onsite doing ergonomic assessments for local businesses around Geelong (see if any of these are YOU).

  1. The Knee Bender
  2. The Huncher
  3. The Sloucher
  4. The Ergonomist
Figure 1: The Knee Bender – Feet do not touch the ground so the worker rests feet on castor wheel base.
Figure 2: Laptop use frequently creates the Huncher – Rounded back and shoulders, head forward requiring extra workload from neck muscles.
Figure 3: The Sloucher – The laziest posture of all! No back support, no thigh support and no good!
Figure 4: The Ergonomist – Trying to sit up really straight and stiff like a soldier. This is good, but it is okay to relax those back and core muscles into the chair and breathe a little!

And let’s not forget those who might also be studying at the moment

  1. The Uni student
  2. The Thinker

Figure 5: The Uni Student – Who hasn’t done some study from the couch – it is super comfy after all! I’ll see you in the clinic next week with that sore neck or headache though 😉
Figure 6: The Thinker – When we’re too deep in thought to realise our elbow has gone numb and our back is sore.

Depending on the time of day, some will be reading this and thinking ‘I do all of these’. So, what is the best advice when it comes to sitting at work? Let me share:

Your Next Posture Is Your Best Posture

Our bodies weren’t designed to sit all day. Frequent movement helps nourish our joints, produce contractions in our muscles and tendons and reduce load/stress through passive structures like ligaments and spinal discs.

When we stand, postural muscles are continually contracting to hold our body upright and prevent us from losing our balance. When we sit for long periods, contractions in these large muscle groups are mainly absent. This means our muscles switch off, and the passive structures like ligaments and joints absorb more stress. Hence the sore lower back!

What can you do? Reduce sitting time by taking regular micro breaks from the desk. Get up to go grab a glass of water from the kitchen, schedule walking meetings, and remove the bin under your desk so you have to go to a central bin when disposing of rubbish. Implementing strategies around postural change like these are the most recognised strategies to reduce the likelihood of developing musculoskeletal symptoms. And if you’re still working from home, you know exactly what I mean when I say we don’t get up and move around as much as when we’re in the office.

Want to know more about home or workplace office ergonomics? Organise an office ergonomic assessment. Contact me directly to discuss admin@oceansideergonomics.com.au.

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