Grant Gibbs, CMnTPT
Ergonomics is a buzzword in today's business world. The term has actually been in use since 1857 when Polish scientist B.W. Jasterzebowski coined the term to apply to his studies of work. The modern definition is "the applied science of equipment to make work easier, safer, and more productive." It can include cognitive (intellectual) and emotional components. We often equate it to mean expensive upgrades to desks, chairs, computers etc.; however, there are often simple, low cost solutions to the mechanical problems of our work.
First off, how do you know you have a problem? Perhaps you experience some discomfort or fatigue that seems related to activities you perform. Maybe you just wonder if it could be improved from an already workable situation. Prevention is preferable to fixing something after it becomes an acute, then chronic, problem. It's best when people develop their own powers of observation. Get someone to take pictures of you from several angles while doing your daily tasks. You can spot a problem from the photograph, or an area you can improve. Once you see it, you can resolve it.
This isn't just for the office. Get pictures of you reading, watching TV, sewing, texting, in sleeping positions, etc.; whatever it is you do regularly. Ask yourself, "Would I want to stand with the posture I see in the picture? Would that be the shape I would want?" If the answer is no, then change it.
Cost-effective, simple solutions are available. There are manually operated sit/stand desks, which are far less expensive than the electric. If your chair is less than optimal, Mackenzie has a full line of supports for your chair for a fraction of the cost of a high-end replacement. Track ball and touch pad computer mice use far fewer shoulder and neck muscles than a regular mouse. Try several options; switch them out regularly.
Several easy ergonomic adjustments you can try right now are:
Sitting. Get two pillows on your lap. Let your elbows, forearms, and wrists rest upon the pillows. Feel the relaxation
in your neck and shoulders. Nice, right? Also, use this technique when computing, texting, watching TV, etc.
Sleeping or Lying down. Roll up a small fleece blanket or a soft towel into a three to four inch tube. Slip it into your pillowcase with your regular pillow. Comfy? This is a homemade version of the Mackenzie Cervical Roll, available at www.alimed.com
Standing. Have a block of wood, one to four inches high, to rest a foot on, relieving low back strain. Switch feet occasionally.
Projects. Make sure your worktable is not against a wall so you can walk all the way around it; diminishing the distance you have to reach.
Ergonomics is a hot topic for a good reason. Many of us find ourselves doing repetitive, stationary tasks for most of our workday. There are experts you can consult with and online resources available; however, with a picture or two as idea resources, you can help yourself simply and cost effectively.
One purpose of Avante's Myofascial Department is to help patients identify ergonomic improvements that can be made, as well as other perpetuating factors of physical dysfunction related to myofascial trigger points.