Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Office ergonomics: Get out of your chair!

Stand up and take a break ...

"Despite the way we all slouch and slump over our desks, we are in fact, bipeds designed to stand upright. So for the millions of office workers who must sit on chairs in front of computers for hours on end, some posture techniques and exercises are in order.

Stooping, repetitive motion and bending forward toward the computer monitor (while relaxing the abdominal muscles) create rounded shoulders, weak abdominal and lower back muscles, and tight hip flexors (the muscles that allow the thigh to lift up).

These sorts of poor office habits create huge health-care expenses for businesses, as well as for people in general. For the year 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 11,270 repetitive strain injuries that

required days away from work, according to a spokesman with to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
More people visit chiropractors because of back pain than any other ailment. "The big complaints from anyone who sits for a living are typically neck, upper-back, and mid-back pain," says Lynn Sarkela, a Denver chiropractor. Slouching and rounding the back while sitting can increase pressure on the lumbar discs by 25 to 100 percent, depending on how you are sitting, Sarkela says. And for every inch the head moves forward off of the neutral spine position, the pressure on the discs in the neck increases incrementally up to the weight of the head.

To prevent the problem, Sarkela recommends never sitting for longer than 20 to 30 minutes without a break. "Stand up for at least 30 seconds to a minute and try to restore normal posture," she says.

Improved posture is a good place to start. Good posture reduces back pain and gives you a sound physical foundation to carry you through your day. Poor posture has a domino effect throughout the body, compounding the stresses and tensions.

When you're standing correctly, certain bony landmarks should line up:

REVERSE HANDS For wrists and forearms: Stand and place the palms of both hands on the desk, fingertips forward. Rotate the hands about 160-degrees to the outside (left hand turns counter-clockwise, right hand clockwise). Thumbs will now be outside. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. (see below for continuation) (Glenn Asakawa | The Denver Post)The head is erect and sits directly above the neck and spine; ears are over the shoulders; shoulders are over the hipbones; the hipbones bisect the knee joint; the knee joint bisects the ankle joint. When the terms "neutral head" or "neutral spine" are used, this means everything is in alignment with the rest of the body."    (Continued via The Denver Post)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Reverse Hands Exercise - Ergonomics

Reverse Hands Exercise

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