Monday, 5 September 2011

Bend and Stretch, but don't reach for those files!

Whenever I complete an ergonomic assessment, I run through the general principals of ergonomics:
  • Keep things that are used constantly within a forearm reach (with elbows by sides)
  • Keep things that are used frequently within an arm's reach
  • Move things that are rarely used outside that zone.. but make sure you move yourself to access them
Most peoples' reaction to that is 'But stretching is good!'. Yes, conscious stretching is good. During stretch classes your mind is on stretching... the way your muscles are lengthening... the feeling of the movement your body is making. When at work, your mind is on work.

People often plant their feet on the floor below the keyboard, and reach out to the side, or up, or back behind them... without any thought to the positions they are placing their bodies or the strain on their spine and shoulders. Repetitive movements similar to these, over time, can cause repetitive strain type injuries. These are injuries that can take months or even years to recover!

Preventing these types of injuries is a matter of changing a habit.
  • Instead of over-reaching to access something on or near your desk.. use your chair to shift yourself closer to that item
  • Instead of side-reaching, swivel in your seat and face your Nose and Toes in the same direction as the activity
  • To reduce the strain on your shoulders from getting heavy files from a shelf above your desk, make it a rule to stand to access anything that is above shoulder height when you are sitting
Use Post-It notes as personal reminders to improve your accessing items technique!

Start a Posture Reminder Brigade and watch out for your colleagues!

Most of all, keep your stretching for exercise classes!!

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