Ergonomics is something that comes up frequently at Tolar Systems in our conversations and work for clients. When we set up workstations, we always need to consider the impacts on comfort and health that an improperly set up work area can have and we strive to help our clients avoid these kinds of issues.
Recently, we interviewed Dr. Nick Anthony, D.C. of Anthony Chiropractic in Abilene to get some ideas to help our clients and readers understand ergonomics and take steps to improve their health.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing our Q and A with Dr. Anthony. In this week’s segment, Dr. Anthony will share with us why good posture and ergonomics are important, problems that lack of attention to ergonomics can cause, and a few ideas to help people overcome the effects of too much time spent sitting.
Interview Part One
Tolar Systems: Why is good posture and proper ergonomics important?
Dr. Anthony: Good posture and proper ergonomics is important to create a happy working environment for your body as it is the place we most often spend the majority of our time. Ergonomics allow an individual to work more productively and feel good while doing it. The more aware are of ergonomics, the more aware we are of our body and the preventative approaches we can take to sustain our health.
Tolar Systems: What are some of the health problems people can experience from poor ergonomics / posture at work?
Dr. Anthony: There’s a long list of health problems caused by poor ergonomics, including:
- Increased kyphosis of the thoracic spine – Kyphosis means rounding; your thoracic spine is your upper back. A rounded upper back area, sometimes called a hunchback, is a common issue from poor workplace ergonomics.
- Forward head carriage and anterior shoulder roll – People tend to allow their heads to heads to roll forward to better see their computers or screens, while shoulders roll forward to move hands closer to the keyboard.
Other issues include:
- Weakening of the extensor musculature and over activation of the flexor muscles,
- Increased headaches,
- Shortness of breath from decreased lung expansion ability,
- Low back pain,
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,
Over the long-term the effects of improper posture at your office can include:
- Decreased ability to get and sustain an erect posture in the seated position or standing positons
- Bone spurs due to the stresses placed on the vertebra of the spinal column being in a poor position for long periods,
- Traction of the spinal cord within the vertebral column,
- Scoliosis (curvature) of the spine,
- Degenerative changes of the bones and the disc of the spinal column
Tolar Systems: What are some of the biggest ergonomics / posture mistakes people are making?
Dr. Anthony: Some of the biggest mistakes include:
- NOT placing the computer screen at eye level in workplace.
- Slouching in chairs. This places more pressure on the lower lumbo-sacral junction rather than sitting on the back of the thighs / the ischial tuberosity or sit-bones)
- Keyboards and mouse are too far away. This causes you to have to reach out forward for them, drawing you into that hunchback position.
- Head extending forward towards the screen rather than staying on top of the shoulders. This will lead to extension at the atlanto-occipital junction (base of head) and increase tension, causing headaches to arise.
Tolar Systems: What advice would you give to offset the negative effects of poor ergonomics and too much time spent sitting?
Dr. Anthony: I would advise them to stand up, get moving, and do some strengthening exercise (particularly strengthening of the extensor muscles of the back, such as the upper back and shoulders. The Superman exercise and Scapular Squeezes (see below) are particularly good for this.
Exercises that can help include:
- Chin tucks against a wall – ensures your head remains over your shoulders
- Scapular Squeezes - builds strength in rhomboids and posterior chain musculature of the spine to keep shoulders back,
- Super Man exercise – builds strength in the para-spinal muscles from base of head to the pelvis to help sustain an erect posture
- Hamstring and Psoas stretches - for decreased tension on the pelvis and the Low back,
- Drink Water throughout the day
I also recommend doing some core training, and walking two out of every 30 minutes spent sitting at work, as well as regular preventative Chiropractic evaluations.
Next week, Dr. Anthony will share with us some of the symptoms people experience from poor ergonomics and poor posture, and how to set up a workstation to prevent these kinds of problems.
Are you experiencing issues due to ergonomics and poor posture? Send us a comment below. And if you want to make sure you don’t miss next week’s post with Dr. Anthony, be sure to Like us on Facebook.