Last week marked the start of National Safe Work Month, a campaign to raise awareness about Work Health and Safety (WHS) in the Australian working community. In supporting this campaign, I wanted to emphasise the importance of being healthy in the workplace. Awkward and sustained postures, repetitive movements (such as typing or mouse clicking) and poor work design are some of the most common reasons people suffer from pain or injury whilst at work.
As an Osteopath, neck and back pain are the two most common injuries I see in the clinic – with many cases of lower back pain being attributed to poor work design or sustained awkward postures. Workplace office ergonomic assessments are a great way to identify any factors that might be contributing to the pain or discomfort you are experiencing. For example, having your chair too low will cause positions of elevated shoulder postures, which over the working week can lead to shoulder tension and consequently, headaches.
Last week I took our lovely receptionist Mel through an ergonomic assessment after ongoing neck and shoulder discomfort. Because of the length of the seat pan on Mel’s chair, she was sitting forward to ensure her feet were flat on the ground. This resulted in no back support for her to rest on, leading to sustained activation of her lower back muscles, eventually leading to low back pain.
Her chair was also too low like mentioned above, causing positions of sustained shoulder elevation – a major culprit for neck and shoulder pain. Lastly, her monitor was positioned too low, causing her to adopt a tilted neck posture. Sustained awkward neck postures require the neck muscles to work significantly harder, eventually leading to neck pain! If you find yourself adopting similar positions to Mel, ask your workplace to give us a call and have Nick come out and assess your workstation!