You’ve probably seen the typical poster picture of “How you should be sitting at your desk”. And there is a good chance that you already know you should be doing something about the chair you are sitting on. Maybe you’ve thought about getting a standing desk, but you just haven’t gotten to it. Regardless of your desk setup, it is always worthwhile to evaluate the position you spend most of your time in. This is what we call ergonomics. It is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment with the aim to optimize people’s workspaces and to reduce the risk of injury.
The word ergonomics comes from the Greek word ergon (which means ‘work’) and the english word economics. Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Basically it is concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It puts people first, making sure that tasks, equipment and the environment fit each worker. It is involved in two important aspects namely: occupational health and safety as well as productivitiy.
Occupational health and safety
One of the most prevalent types of work-related injuries is musculoskeletal disorders. They result in persistent pain and result in people being unable to do daily activities or go to work. Statistics have shown that millions of people are diagnosed with work-related injuries each year and it leads to millions of people taking time off work. Certain jobs can cause higher levels of undue strain, fatigue and pain that does not go away after overnight rest. These types of jobs often involve repetitive and forceful exertion, like heavy lifting or manual labor. However, it has also been shown that having a sedentary job, like sitting behind a desk the whole day, can be just as straining to your body. Thus, proper ergonomics is necessary to prevent repetitive strain and other musculoskeletal disorders, which develops over time and can lead to long-term disability.
When you work in a safe and comfortable workspace, you’ll feel much more productive. Each person has different needs when it comes to comfort and each job will require something different from you. An example of this is the layout of your office. If you constantly have to get up and walk around your desk to fetch documents, it wastes time and energy. If the documents were close at hand, you only have to turn your chair to reach them. This way, you’d get more work done and be more productive. In the end, better productivity at work usually improves the morale of the staff and the income of the company.
Ergonomics isn’t only applicable to work spaces
You can apply the concept of ergonomics to daily life or sport or hobbies as well. Take cycling as an example: If you take time to set up your bike to fit your body, you’ll decrease wind resistance and increase your speed. Not just will you improve your performance, you’ll reduce the chances sustaining an injury. Another example is gardening. Walking to and fro to pick up and throw away leaves causes unncessary strain. But, if you have a wheelbarrow at hand, you can put the leaves in it and save time by throwing everything away at once.
To sum it all up
Ergonomics is something you should pay attention to daily. Ask yourself: “Is this the best or most efficient position for my body?” Don’t only start once you are in pain, because it can even help you to prevent pain and injury.
Why we use ergonomics in our treatment approach
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders can be difficult to diagnose, because typically it doesn’t involve a traumatic accident. Rather, it is constant and repetitive strain and overuse of muscles, joints and nerves. So, if you are not going to look at the position or posture causing the strain, you simply won’t get better.
The biggest problem we face is sedentary behavior, such as spending long periods of time in seated positions. It is a big risk for health problems and musculoskeletal pain. Unfortunately, even though some workplaces make an effort to provide a well designed environment for their employees, any employee who is performing large amounts of sitting will likely experience discomfort at some point.
You cannot always simply change your job, so make your job work for you
That is where we come in. At Well Health Pro we believe that it is very valuable to look at how ergonomics fits into your lifestyle. Not just with your work, but with your daily activities and even sport as well. We use it not just to treat existing pain, but to try and prevent future problems. By incorporating good ergonomic principles in your lifestyle, you can prevent an acute problem from becoming chronic and recurring.
What’s great about ergonomics is that it can be personalised to your needs and your lifestyle. You’ll find the changes you make much more sustainable if it is applicable to you.
You need someone to guide you through the process of incorporating ergonomics and to evaluate what you need. We can help with that!