Working In An Ergonomic Environment – The Truth
Did you know that most Americans are sitting at work for at least 40 hours a week? Oftentimes, people are using a computer in the office, and at home too. Many people soon develop pain conditions in the neck, back, and extremities, resulting in chronic health issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, poor posture, and numbness in the limbs. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both insist upon promoting better, more ergonomic work environments as a means to greater productivity and employee satisfaction. Better workplace ergonomics reduces the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and stress, thereby minimizing the need for one to seek medical attention.
There are a few things to bear in mind when considering workplace ergonomics. First of all, remember to switch postures periodically. Static postures inhibit blood flow, resulting in muscle fatigue and strain. By changing postures, you decrease your susceptibility to injuries. Secondly, find a neutral position that minimizes strain upon your joints, back, and neck. Avoid positions in which your joints are extended to their maximum ranges. Finally, when you are lifting objects — large or small — remember to use your largest muscles to do the work. This reduces the risk of injuries upon your smaller, weaker muscles.
There are also ways to make your cubicle or office setting more comfortable. Common problems include slouching or hunching over in the chair, neck stiffness from using the computer, and numbness in their lower back. Other problems that people experience are headaches, weak leg muscles, and pain the wrist or elbow. There are certain things you can do to reduce the frequency of these ailments, or to completely prevent them from occurring.
One such thing is to take mini-breaks while doing your work to stretch out your arms and legs. You should get up from your desk and walk around every half an hour. Doing shoulder shrugs and neck rotations can help to relieve stress from your neck. For those who are constantly on the phone, this is an extremely helpful exercise. Also, if you plan on using the phone for a long time, it’s a good idea to use a headset. If you need to look at the computer screen all day, your eyes can be quite strained too. Look outside a window or at objects far away. This allows you to move and relax your eye muscles.
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The way your work area is set up can affect your posture. Your desk should be high enough so that you can sit and reach everything comfortably. With your feet touching the floor, your body and your legs should form a 90 to 110 degree angle. Another thing is to find a chair that is adequately cushioned and has a back support. For you to be comfortably seated all day long, the chair needs to have a cushion on the seat to support your low-back. Your chair should be cushioned to your comfort level. You should lean against the back support of your chair to prevent yourself from slouching or hunching over.
Make sure your head and neck are well-aligned while you are working. The top of your computer monitor should be level with your eyes. Once again, make sure your head and neck are aligned and in neutral position. Do not lean or hunch forward. If you need to refer to paper documents, use a bookstand to keep the pages in position. This enables you to focus your eyes on the same area.
There are also tips specifically for those who are on a computer all day to improve the ergonomics of their work space. For those who use a laptop, use an external mouse instead of the touchpad. The proper way to use a mouse is to move your entire shoulder and arm, not merely your wrist. Allow your forearm ample space to rest. Do not let your elbow dangle off the edge of your desk. Take frequent breaks and stretch your fingers, wrists, and arms periodically.
If you need to lift heavy objects for work, it is essential to utilize proper muscle usage and body positioning to avoid injuries. Never bend forward to pick up heavy objects — you may wind up straining your lower back. Instead, make sure you keep your back straight and lift up using your thigh muscles. Keep your elbows flexed and your head up. Also, keep the object close to your body. Lift and stand with your body as close to straight as possible. Always get help if something is too heavy for you to carry by yourself.
Ensuring the best possible workplace ergonomics for you is one of the most important steps toward better chiropractic health. Take the initiative now to improve your work environment — your health is certainly your best career investment.
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