Many people do not realize that the pain they may be experiencing each day could be alleviated by making some basic changes to the ergonomics of their lives. Ergonomics is the science of efficiencies in the work place. More specifically it is finding the most efficient way to work and included in this study is also the proper way to work to avoid injury. Applying ergonomics to your everyday life will help you avoid repetitive stress injury as well as injuries from lifting and moving improperly.
The average person travels just under an hour to and from work. A few basic adjustments to how you travel will help you avoid back pain, the second most common reason for people missing work:
- Public Transit: When using public transit you can be faced with a lot of walking, waiting and standing. It is important to have the proper shoes. Cue the scene from the movie Working Girl where career women en masse walk the streets of New York dressed in top quality business suits with comfortable runners and white socks on their way to the office. That is the right way to travel. Men can consider inserts for added support to dress shoes. Make sure you are always holding on to handrails up and down stairs leading to and from subways and bus platforms as well as when standing on buses, subways and streetcars. Proper balance helps avoid back strain and accidents.
- Highway Commute: Drivers should try to maintain proper posture while driving which means firmly placing your back against your car seat. The base of your spine should be touching the back of the seat and you can place a rolled towel at the base of your spine for added support. If you have a head rest adjust it so you can rest your head against it for added support and comfort.
If you have a desk job use the following techniques to experience less stress to your body:
- Sit with your feet positioned flat on the floor
- Have your monitor positioned at a 15 degree angle at eye level and one arm’s length away for less strain on your neck
- Keep your lower back supported
- Keep hands and forearms out straight towards your keyboard
Standing at Work
If you work in a warehouse, retail or other jobs that require standing, you should always stand in the “neutral position”. The key is to be relaxed as follows:
- Neck aligned with spine
- Shoulders relaxed not forward or back
- Elbows close to torso at a slight angle
- Forearms held with thumbs up
- S shaped spine
- Wrists aligned with forearms
- Fingers together and curved
- Slight bending at hips and knees
When lifting follow these standard rules:
- Bend at the knees
- Centre the load
- Arms and elbows tucked in
- Lift with your legs
- Keep the item close to your body
- Don’t twist from the waist, instead start with your feet
Sticking to the basic rules of ergonomics will lessen strain on your body and help avoid injury.