It’s no surprise that having the right posture is an important factor in leading a long and healthy life. Humans are designed to move! But the current conditions that we put our bodies through—whether we're spending long hours working or watching those hilarious Youtube videos—can have a negative impact on our bodies.Too often busy professionals tend to blame eye strain or back pain on poor ergonomics. Ergonomics are concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that they can interact efficiently and safely. For example poor-lighting or an uncomfortable chair are less obvious factors of poor ergonimics.
Exposure to poor ergonomics for a long period can lead to injuries, attrition and even a form of disability, in some cases. The process of repeating these harmful actions prevent our bodies from recovering. This, not surprisingly, leads to pain, but also long-term injuries.
Ergonomic injuries can be classified into a few different types: Muscoskeletal Disorder (MSD), Cumulative Trauma Injuries and Repetitive Stress Injuries. Muscoskeletal Disorders are the most common of these injuries and can impact several important parts of the body such as cartilage, the spinal cord, muscles, nerves and tissue.
The amount of time we spend in front of a computer can heavily influence whether we develop some symptoms of this injury or not, which is why it is important to take the correct measures to prevent it. Some of the most common symptoms for MSD include weakness in the muscles, sore or tender neck, lower back or shoulders, and pain in the most exposed body parts such as the hands and wrists. It is crucial to detect these symptoms early and take action to reduce their impact.
There are several small steps which can be taken to avoid these kinds of injuries:
- Try to keep your feet flat on the ground without crossing your legs
- Keep your laptop or keyboard at elbow level
- Ensure that your lower back gets sufficient support from your chair
- The height of your monitor should be just below your eye level, not too low, not too high
- Keep your elbows and wrists horizontal at all times
- Make sure there is enough room for your knees and legs to move around
- Take regular breaks (to allow your body to stretch and heal from stiffness caused by sitting in the same position)
- Participate in your workplace wellness program to ensure that you know how to prevent an ergonomic injury
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Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.