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3 Important Facts about Ergonomics

Ergonomics what?!?!?!

You’ve probably heard the word “Ergonomics” mentioned around the office. It triggers images of good sitting posture and an office chair. But do you know what Ergonomics is?

Ergonomics is…

…. the science of how work affects the body. It is the art of arranging workplaces and environments so that they suit the people who use them.

So it’s having the right chair, the right lighting, right computer position, right body posture, right temperature ……

Fundamentally it is:

  • Best equipment;
  • Good physical environment;
  • And safe tasks and work demands – meaning no risk of injury or illness.

So what should I know about Ergonomics?

There are 3 essential facts that EVERYONE should know about Ergonomics.

1. Mind your Posture!

Many aches and pains can be traced to poor posture. Things like slouching, awkward positions and sustained leaning can contribute to muscle stress and discomfort. However when we have a “neutral spine” there is an equal balance within the muscles, bones and tissues of the body meaning a strong and stable position and consequently less pain.

So what is a neutral spine? Here’s a quick posture check:

  • Place your feet flat on the floor with legs uncrossed.
  • Sit with knees lower than your hips.
  • Pull your shoulders back, open your chest and make your back straight and tall.
  • Your head should be straight with ears lining up over the collarbone.
  • Breathe in, breathe out ……. and relax!

2. Get the right equipment.

We can’t keep a good posture if we don’t have the right equipment to support it. Good equipment helps us to work in the best neutral position we can. It takes into account the job demands and worker comfort.

Adjustable desks, monitors, footrests, external keyboards, and mouse are all things to consider. But the most important piece of equipment? ……… A good chair!

A recent study commissioned by Fellowes highlighted that 80% of workers say their workstation is uncomfortable and 50% of those blame their chair. It is important to have a chair that is comfortable and has lots of adjustable features as office workers come in many different shapes and sizes.

A good chair should have:

  1. Adjustable lumbar support,
  2. Height adjustability,
  3. Adjustable arm rests,
  4. Adjustable back rest tilt and
  5. Adjustable seat pan depth.

Office equipment should allow a worker to sit and perform their duties in comfort and without pain!

3. Get up and Move!

There is lots of evidence about posture and keeping a neutral spine. But even with the best posture and the most comfortable chair, if you don’t move regularly you WILL experience pain.

It is important to be dynamic. As humans, we are designed to move frequently. On average, people spend a minimum of 6.5 hours per day sitting at work. Sitting has been linked to being overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, greater risk of heart disease and early death. Additionally sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, manage blood pressure and break down body fat.

Does that mean standing is better for us? Not necessarily. Standing for long periods has been linked with vascular problems, greater fatigue and risk of varicose veins.

The solution? Alternate frequently between sitting and standing. Ideally move every 10 minutes and stand up and move every 20-30 minutes. If you are standing, try to sit every 20-30 minutes. Stretching is also a great way to reduce muscle fatigue and make you feel better.

What if I need help with Ergonomics?

An Occupational Therapist (OT) can visit your workplace and conduct an Ergonomic Assessment to identify any issues. They can give Ergonomic advice about individual workers, general office equipment or can provide training and education.

More questions?

If you want to know more information about Ergonomics and how we can help then contact our Occupational Therapist at Dubai Physiotherapy and Family Medicine Clinic on 04 349 6333 or email dpc@dubaiphysio.com.