Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ergonomics can ease pain in the neck

Tips for avoiding neck pain ...

"Doctors estimate 70 percent of workers will have shoulder, neck aches because of improper posture at computers

Q: I don't have a physically strenuous job. I work in an office. But by the end of the day, my neck and shoulders ache. What's causing it?

A: Without knowing it, you may be bringing on neck and shoulder pain by the way you perform everyday activities. If so, you have plenty of company. Doctors estimate that 70 percent of us will be troubled by neck pain at some point in our lives. Improper posture while using a computer deserves much of the blame. Workers often sit for hours with their shoulders slumped and their heads thrust forward toward the monitor, which puts stress on neck muscles.

You should get relief by following simple ergonomic principles. (Ergonomics is the field that offers advice for arranging your home and workplace so that you can do tasks safely and efficiently.) Broadly speaking, that means keeping your neck in a neutral position, with your head balanced directly over your shoulders, not thrust forward or tilted to one side.

Sounds obvious, but how does that affect the way you work and move? Here are some tips for achieving a healthy neck posture during common activities at work and home:

-- Sitting at a computer. Keep your head balanced directly over your spine as much as possible. Adjust your chair's height so your feet rest comfortably on the floor. Sit with your buttocks far back in your chair, and use a small pillow to support your lower back if needed. Desktop computers can be tilted or raised so that the monitor is directly in front of you. If you work on a laptop, however, properly adjusting the keyboard and monitor may be difficult or impossible. Try plugging a separate, full-size keyboard into a laptop to achieve better positioning.

Even if you have perfect posture, get up, stretch and move around every half-hour. If you tend to get lost in your work, set a timer or program your computer to flash a reminder.

-- Talking on the phone. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, don't lean your head to one side to hold the phone on your shoulder. Instead, use a headset or speakerphone, which will help keep your head in a neutral position, and your hands free for other tasks. Headsets are available for both your desk phone and cell phone.

-- Reading or writing at your desk. When you're reading, sit up straight and hold the document, book or report up so that you don't need to bend over. Or use a document holder to prop up the material. You can put papers on a slanted board raised slightly off the desk to keep them at a comfortable reading angle. For writing, adjust your chair so you don't need to bend over.

-- Reading at home. Try to maintain an upright posture when you sit in a chair. Hold your book so that you don't have to lean down or forward to see it. Putting the book on a pillow in your lap may help. If you read in bed, sit up straight or use a wedge-shaped pillow to support your back."    (Continued via    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Blogger Jacob said...

Thanks for the advice! I think there are still many facilities that have complete ignorance of ergonomic principles and their solutions. It's too bad, because it's all fairly easy to solve.

--Jake Devine

10:26 AM  
Anonymous AyJay said...

Good article. Attention seems to be growing about the need to restore a proper normal position. It is easily overridden by the "common" position of our work activities. This develops into Repetitive Strain Injury.

There are many consequences. Chronic pain; headaches, neck, shoulder and back aches, jaw pain, numbness in arms, wrist and hand, blood pressure, shortness of breath and even organ problems. Most aren't easily associated with the root problem of poor alignment. We spend thousands of dollars on pain medication that toxifies our bodies and masks the root problem. It's kind of like playing the music loud enough to drown out the smoke alarm.

There are lots of references out there. A Google search on forward head posture will yield over 200,000 hits. Exercises, YouTube videos, professional treatment, blogs and devices are the main components.

Among the top ten is Check it out. Some people need a device to assist them to restore and maintain. The PostureJac is excellent as a trainer to correct and protect "normal" posture and condition your muscles and connective tissues to keep you there. This one is quite innovative, and inexpensive.

3:31 AM  

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