Ergonomics 101: Working from home during Coronavirus.

Telecommuting has become the norm in our society today, and with the pandemic we have endured and currently face, we may be at home for much longer into the future. While this may be attainable and even ideal for most of the population, our bodies may be affected in negative ways we have never dreamed of. Many people are unaware of the stress bad ergonomics places on our bodies. People can develop wrist, elbow, neck, or back pain, never concluding the cause to be that of their own doing. Sitting in a chair for long periods places compression and stress on our joints that can cause stiffness, strain, and pain in our bodies. Setting up your workspace correctly can help prevent back issues and problems in the future.

Steps for a properly seated workspace.

– Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor.

– Your shoulders should be relaxed and low, not high or hunched up.

– Your lower arms should be parallel to the floor. They should be resting on a support.

– Your feet should be resting on the floor.

– Your upper back should be straight, and your chair should support your lower back.

– You should avoid slouching in your chair and keep your hips as close to the back of the chair as possible.

– Your upper legs should be at a 90-degree angle from your body.

– You should be sitting up straight, and your screen should be a full arm’s length away from you.

– You should avoid leaning to any one side.

 

There is also the option of working at a standing desk that may increase blood flow, good posture, and decreased stress overall placed on the body.

Steps for maintaining proper posture at a standing desk.

– Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor.

– Your shoulders should be relaxed and low, not high or hunched up.

– Your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees, and the desk should be set to the height of your forearms.

– You should be standing on an even surface with your feet shoulder-width apart.

– You should avoid leaning to any one side.

Sitting for long periods can be detrimental to your body.

Being sedentary has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.  Along with correcting your positioning at the desk, it is also essential to take standing breaks away from the computer every 30 minutes. Going to the bathroom, stretching, getting a drink of water, or grabbing a snack are good excuses to step away from the desk. Taking a lunch break away from the desk is also a good option.  Going for a walk on your lunch break is an excellent way to get your body moving and may even grant you some much-needed energy and concentration to take on the remainder of your day.

If you have experienced wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, or back pain and cannot find relief from correcting your workspace, physical therapy can help decrease your pain and give you the tools to help it from happening again. You will be taught proper stretching, strengthening, and body mechanics based on your body and individualized goals. You will be able to get back to work feeling good again before you know it!

If you are suffering from pain and poor range of mobility we welcome you as a patient, we have over 20 clinics throughout the valley, request an appointment or come in for a free Rapid Recovery® Injury Assessment.

Your tree is up, the halls are decked and the holiday music is on repeat—it’s the perfect setting for wrapping gifts. We’re here to share helpful tips on proper posture when gift wrapping—all to work within the limitations that we all have in our homes.

Wrapping presents on the bed. I do this very often, but the problem is the bed is too low to keep you from bending too much. One of the best ways to give your back some support is to stagger your feet and put one knee into the edge of the bed. This knee is then used to support your body weight and you don’t have as much strain on the back.

Sitting on the floor. An important thing to do before wrapping presents this way is to stretch your legs first. The hamstrings, hip adductors, and hip rotators (back of the leg, inner thigh, and buttock) are often over stretched and painful after you wrap presents this way.

Another thing is to make sure to sit upright, and not let your back roll into a “C” position, or slump down. And make sure that you keep scissors and tape within reach. I personally have aggravated a sciatic condition by reaching quickly for the scissors that were just beyond my foot. Keeping items nearby will help this.

Create a gift wrapping station. Have a spare room or maybe you’re an avid crafter? Use this space to set up a gift wrapping station. Make sure the table you use is high enough that you don’t need to hunch over when wrapping. And don’t forget to slip on some supportive shoes while standing—no bare feet or cozy Christmas slippers.

Remember to be mindful when gift wrapping, especially if you have enough gifts to fill up Santa’s sleigh. If you end up feeling sore, tense or discomfort, schedule a Rapid Recovery® Injury Assessment with the Foothills team to get you feeling better. Happy holidays!

How many times were we reminded as kids to sit/stand up straight? Unfortunately for most, it is an afterthought when we’re sitting in therapy with back pain. Being proactive and protecting the spine are important parts of our overall health. And the spine is quite easy to protect- just start with the basics…your posture.

“Posture” is very important both at home and on the job. Sitting and standing posture, as well as sleep positioning, are paramount to good spinal health. Maintaining a neutral spine will reduce biomechanical strain and can help you avoid back pain.    

What does “neutral spine” mean? Neutral Spine is the natural position of the spine when all body parts are in good alignment. Typically, when your spine is in neutral, it looks like an “S” from the side and the natural curves of the cervical and lumbar spine are maintained. Below are some brief guidelines on how to maintain good posture while standing, sitting and sleeping.

Standing posture: Keep your head directly over the shoulders (chest out, head back’). Keep the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Tighten the core abdominal muscles. Tuck in the buttocks. Place the feet slightly apart, with one foot positioned slightly in front of the other and knees bent just a little bit (not locked).

All of the steps above may not come together at once. Remember to change standing positions often and  try to become more aware of your posture while standing. It may feel strange at first, but after awhile it will feel natural.

Sitting Posture:  Many people experience discomfort while sitting for long periods of time at work. To maintain a good ‘sitting posture’ at a desk adopt a user-friendly workstation by adjusting the office chair and desk position so that the work position is elbow high. Adjust your computer screen so that it is exactly eye level – or exactly where your gaze would be if you were to sit in front of your computer, shut your eyes then open them- where is your natural gaze?  Adjust your screen to meet that gaze.

Many people sit towards the front of their chair and end up hunching forward to look at their computer screen. It is better to sit back in the chair and utilize the chair’s lumbar support to keep the head and neck erect. Take stretching and walking breaks if sitting in an office chair for long periods of time.

Car – sitting posture: It is important to sit with the knees level with the hips. Use either a small rolled-up towel or a commercial back support placed between the lower back and the back of the seat for more comfort and support of the natural  curve of the low back.

Drivers are advised to sit at a comfortable distance from the steering wheel. Reaching increases the pressure on the lumbar spine and can stress the neck, shoulder and wrist, so sitting too far away can aggravate back pain. However, sitting too close can increase risk of injury from the car’s airbag. 

 Sleep Posture: Position while sleeping is often ignored. If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees to provide the low back support and neutral spinal position. Similarly, if you sleep on your side, place that pillow between the knees to protect the low back. If you must sleep on your stomach (which we do not encourage) place a pillow under your stomach.

The therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine are happy to help you learn how to find that proper standing and sitting posture to avoid back pain and injuries. Please stop by any of our locations so that we may assist you.