Sunday, 22 January 2012

It's only a little niggle...

In the many years of working as a rehabilitation consultant in worker's compensation, I can't begin to tell you how many times injured workers' have told me how their injury occurred, explaining that 'it was only a niggling discomfort, I thought it would just go away'.

Lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, wrist pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain.. the list goes on and on. Left to get better on their own, these niggling discomforts can sometimes develop into full-blown injuries that can take months and even years to recover!

Besides getting an all-important workstation assessment to ensure that how you sit and work isn't contributing to the discomfort, other things that can help out in these early stages can include:

  • Massages from a qualified remedial massage therapist or physiotherapist
  • A few physiotherapy sessions (and then actually doing the stretches and exercises they prescribe)
  • Some anti-inflammatory medication (talk to your doctor or pharmacist first)
  • Light exercise and movement (we sit down for way too long each day)

Also, it's worth looking at the things you handle everyday - For example, some handbags are really heavy! Do you really need a full 1L water bottle, a diary, a book, a make up bag, spare shoes etc. with you at all times? See what things you can leave at work or home, what you can downsize (i.e. using a small bottle and refilling it as needed), or other ways you can carry things to and from work (backpacks and trolley bags are a couple of options).

The most important message out of this is that it's so much better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to aches and pains that just don't go away. Act before they become more than just a bit of pain in the neck!
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Sunday, 8 January 2012

What is ergonomics? What's a workstation assessment?

I've come to a realisation that many people don't really know what I do, or what Get Ergonised stands for. Having conversations with people over Christmas, I noticed that they were doing a lot of nodding but not a lot of understanding.. so here it is:

What is ergonomics? 

Essentially, ergonomics is making products and tasks more comfortable for the user. When applied to office workstations, it means making it more comfortable for people to sit and work at their desk. That's it, nothing more, nothing less. Just something to make your workstation not make you sore. When you think about it, many of us experience that niggling neck and upper back tension that always seems to get worse when working on an intense project or after a long day or week.. and how about that low back pain that can sometimes make it hard to stay seated for hours on end. Even things like forearm pain, wrist pain, headaches, eye strain and leg soreness may be symptoms attributed to sitting at a desk that has not been set up specifically to suit you. Hot-desking seems to be the new thing in workplaces, where you get to sit at a different workstation every day.. do all these people spend 2 minutes each morning setting themselves up for optimal comfort?

So what's a workstation assessment? 

A workstation assessment is an evaluation of you at your workstation. It includes making sure your chair is at the right height, and that the backrest fits the curves of your back; that the monitor, keyboard and mouse are positioned correctly for you; that your phone is accessible without straining yourself; and also as importantly, that your workflow is effective and work areas on your desk are appropriately designated.

January is a great month for having a workstation assessment, as most people will still be relaxed and pain-free after a few days or weeks off from work. Start the year off getting yourself ergonised!

Check out for more information on work and home workstation assessments.