Workplace Ergonomics And The Hidden Toll On The Body
Updated: Mar 16
Over the past eighteen months I noticed an increase in patients coming to me with complaints of pain in their neck, shoulders and back. My first observation was, these individuals appear to be hunched over with rounded shoulders with their heads titled forward. What is the cause? After a quick assessment it is revealed they are either a child working remotely and on a device, or an adult who is either hybrid or remote with no ergonomic team at home. Yes, that is correct, when going to the office daily there is usually an ergonomic department but when working from home the settings vary.
An increased repetitive load on the body routinely causes musculoskeletal disorders. This occurs when a persons body is in a position that is opposite their natural form or position. As a result, muscles guard and become stiff, the spine misaligns (low back, mid back, and neck) which puts pressure on nerves. Hours on end using a laptop and sitting at a desk creates these repetitive loads.
If this sounds familiar here are some tips to help:
Dedicate your work area and keep it consistent with proper lighting. Proper lighting keeps the employee/student from awkward flexing to view the screen.
Arrange your desk and computer where you are sitting upright and erect looking directly at your screen. Your elbows should be about 90 degrees for typing on the keyboard.
Make sure your chair is set at the appropriate height allowing your hips, knees and ankles to be at 90 degrees. A lumbar support cushion is a great help.
Set up a secondary standing workstation. This allows the employee/student to stand and take a load off your lower back during the day.
One important but often overlooked suggestion is work-life balance. Working from home is much like going to the office. Every so often stand up and walk to fill a glass of water. Take your mental breaks throughout the workday. Whether you have a desk job or a physical job, most injuries occur at the end of the day or shift when an overworked person begins to cut corners to save time.
If you are having headaches or pain caused by daily ergonomics then it's time to get you out of pain. Book with me.
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Dr. Jeffrey A. Dunnigan