Ergon = work Nomos = Law
Ergonomics can help us reduce office injuries. It is the study and practice of analyzing and creating a workplace environment that best fits you. The better the harmony among yourself, the work processes, the equipment you use, and your work environment, the less chance that you will sustain an injury.
An ergonomic assessment takes into account your work habits, capabilities, and physical attributes in order to:
• Increase productivity
• Reduce fatigue
• Reduce stress
• Reduce injury
So, what types of injuries result from poor ergonomics?
Primarily soft-tissue injuries involving nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia:
• Neck pain related to sustained and awkward postures and repetition
Think of a poorly placed monitor not directly in front of you which forces you to look up and to the right throughout your work day.
• Shoulder pain related to sustained/awkward postures and repetitive stress
Maybe your frequently used files are kept above your shoulder level, and you repeatedly have to reach up to get them.
• Hand and Wrist pain (tendonitis, carpal tunnel) related to posture, gripping and pinching forces, repetitive stress, and vibration
Keystrokes can add up! Combine that with a poorly placed keyboard, no wrist rest or armrest and problems can arise.
• Elbow pain (tendonitis, tendinosis) related to posture and force
Don’t be the cat chasing the mouse. Keep your computer mouse directly next to the keyboard, and within reach, with your elbow at your side. The force from gripping those paper filled 3” and 4”, 3 ring binders can make you excessively grip, and repeated keyboard strokes will transfer load to the tendons which cross your wrists and elbows.
• Back pain related to sustained/awkward postures, forceful lifting, and pushing/pulling movements
Proper lifting mechanics aren’t just for gym. Also, don’t forget that your back needs a break from sitting, every 30 minutes to an hour.
Here are our ergonomic recommendations, to help prevent soft-tissue injuries in the office:
Take a look at your office and assess the Big 3:
• Your office chair
• Your workstation (with keyboard and mouse)
• Your monitor
Look to see if they are adjustable and learn to adjust them into different positions. This will allow you to keep a fluid and dynamic posture instead of a static posture throughout your workday. If you can adjust 2 out of 3 or even 3 out of 3 you’re in great shape. If only 1 or none of these elements is adjustable, you have an ergonomics problem!
The next recommendation is to take an “ergo-break” or “micro-break” every 30 minutes to every hour. Utilize movements in order to reset your posture and bring blood and oxygen to the soft tissues. Here’s a downloadable microbreak card that you can put at your workstation: PDF Micro-Break Card
If you’re suffering from ergonomics related soft-tissue pain, we’re here to help!