Every job presents its own set of physical and mental challenges. However, no matter what demands our ergonomics or how we use our bodies while interacting with our work environments and surroundings, it affects how we feel during and after the day. It can be helpful to think of our bodies as tools with specific jobs and purposes and should be used as efficiently as possible to prevent injury and pain.
Thinking about ergonomics from a few fundamental themes can help keep safety and efficiency at the forefront of our minds. Themes such as posture, positioning, and performance are married to ergonomics, and if we think of these ideas proactively, we can stay safe while at work.
Whether you work a desk job on the computer, stand all day, or work in poorly lit conditions and small spaces, thinking of your body’s posture during such tasks can help keep us healthy. The common yet less-than-ideal postures typically observed may include: a forward head and rounded shoulders, slouched sitting, curved or rounded back, and working up on toes while either lifting or squatting. These positions do not provide mechanic advantages to the musculoskeletal system and should be avoided. When done repetitively, poor posturing can result in chronic pain or acute injury. How is your body positioned during the day? Taking frequent breaks to stand, stretch, or change positions is the simplest recommendation to avoid prolonged periods of poor posture.
Different from posture, positioning yourself in space regarding your work environment is equally important. Imagine a circle drawn around yourself that does not extend beyond arm’s length in any direction. This space is your base of support, and working within our base of support is a safe place to prevent injury. Exceeding the limits of this imaginary space, whether it is during reaching, lifting, or pulling away from our bodies’ center, can greatly change the mechanics and the loads put on our bodies. Whether it is hundreds of repetitive times of poor habits or a single time, improper positioning regarding ergonomics can result in injury. Work within arm’s reach to maximize core stability and minimize loads on the joints/muscles.
The quality of movement and how we complete tasks are greatly affected by how we interact with our environment. Are we using proper lifting mechanics? Are we selecting a grip position that minimizes the load on soft tissue structures? Is our body properly conditioned? These performance factors, combined with using our bodies in space can impact our workday and longevity.
In summary, we can control several variables related to ergonomics to prevent injuries and pain. It is critical to consider good posture for all parts of our bodies, positioning within our workspace and not extending beyond our base of support and being physically prepared to match our job demands. Keeping these three ideas in mind helps keep us working safely.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.