What Is Ergonomics?

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Fitness and Health, Issues

How Do You minimize Workplace Injuries?

Author: Dr. Pierre DuBois

 woman at deskYou’re not doing anything stressful at work. You’re just sitting at your desk in front of a computer screen all day. Yet you come home every night with a backache, headache or sore wrist.

If this describes you, your doctor or chiropractor has probably told you that you need to improve your workplace ergonomics. That’s easy for them to say, but what is ergonomics and how do you improve it?

What Is Ergonomics?

The term ergonomics stems from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws). According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ergonomics is defined as “the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.”

Good ergonomics in the workplace is key to maintaining our body’s proper health and function, and it can have a major effect on the quality of our work.

Ergonomics involves the physical stressors in our workplace as well as related environmental factors. For example, physical stressors are any activities that put strain on the bones, joints and muscles. These can involve things such as performing repetitive motions, vibrations, working in awkward positions and actions using excessive force.

Environmental factors that contribute to bad ergonomics include loud noise, bad indoor air quality and improper lighting.

Why Is Workplace Ergonomics Important?

Bad ergonomics can increase the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, causing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and neck and back pain, as well as creating a range of other health problems, including sick building syndrome, eyestrain and hearing loss.

However, there are steps you can take to improve your workplace ergonomics that can help reduce health risks.

How Can You Improve Workplace Ergonomics?

Cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are caused by repetitive motions such as typing. To prevent this, set up your computer workstation in a way that allows your hands and wrists to be in as neutral a position as possible.

When sitting at your desk, your chair should be at a height where your eyes are level with the top of your computer screen, and your arms are at a 45-degree angle for typing. Ensure that your wrists are not angled up or down or to the left or right.

If your desk is too high to keep your forearms straight, raise the height of your chair and use a footrest to keep your feet from dangling. Your chair should be at a height where your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest, while keeping your knees just slightly higher than the level of the seat.

The chair should provide some light support to your lower back (use a pillow, if necessary) while allowing you to move freely. The arms of the chair should support your lower arms while letting your upper arms remain close to your torso.

To reduce eyestrain, adjust ambient lighting to diminish glare and adjust the brightness and contrast until your eyes are comfortable reading. If you are working in a noisy area, use earplugs or headphones that cut ambient sound (but not set loud enough to damage your hearing!).

Good ergonomics also involves taking frequent breaks. Move around, get some fresh air and focus your eyes on things at varying distances.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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One of the Little known Causes of Headaches

Posted August 15, 2017 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Your Sleeping Position May Be Causing Your Headaches!

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

Can sleeping position be one of the causes of headaches?  

A Sleeping position that has your head tilted puts pressure on your spinal cord and will cause headaches. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, and the reasoning is so logical it’s easy to understand.

causes of headachesYour spinal cord runs from your brain, through each of your vertebrae, down your arms and legs. Nerves pass out of the vertebrae and go to every cell in your body, including each of your organs. When you are sleeping it is important to keep your head, neck, and spine in a horizontal plane so you aren’t straining the muscles that insert into your vertebrae.

The graphic above is a close-up of your skull and the cervical (neck) vertebrae. Your nerves are shown in yellow, and your artery is shown in red.  Consider what happens if you hold your head to one side for hours. You can notice that the nerves and artery will likely be press upon. Also, since your spinal cord comes down the inside of the vertebrae, it will also be impinged.

In 2004 the Archives of Internal Medicine published an article stating that 1 out of 13 people have morning headaches. It’s interesting to note that the article never mentions the spinal cord being impinged by the vertebrae. That’s a major oversight!

Muscles merge into tendons, and the tendons insert into the bone.  As you stayed in the tilted position for hours, the muscles actually shortened to the new length.  Then you try to turn over, but the short muscles are holding your cervical vertebrae tightly, and they can’t lengthen.

The weight of your head pulls on the vertebrae, putting even more pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.  Plus, the tight muscles are pulling on the bones, causing pain on the bone.

Your Pillow is Involved in Your Sleeping Position and the Causes of  Headaches

sleep left side

The analogy I always use is; just as pulling your hair hurts your scalp, the muscle pulling on the tendons hurts the bone where it inserts.  In this case it is your neck muscles putting a strain on your cervical bones.  For example, if you sleep on your left side and your pillow is too thick, your head will be tilted up toward the ceiling. This position tightens the muscles on the right side of your neck.

sleeping in car and desk

Dozing off while sitting in a car waiting for someone to arrive, or while working for hours at your desk can also horizontal line sleepcause headaches. The pictures above show a strain on the neck when you fall asleep without any support on your neck. Both of these people will wake up with a headache, and with stiffness in their neck.

The best sleeping position to prevent headaches is to have your pillow adjusted so your head, neck, and spine are in a horizontal line. Play with your pillows, putting two thin pillows into one case if necessary. If your pillow is too thick try to open up a corner and pull out some of the stuffing.

 

sleeping on stomachSleeping on Your Back & Stomach

If you sleep on your back and have your head on the mattress, your spine is straight. All you need is a little neck pillow for support, and a pillow under your knees.

Stomach sleeping is the worst sleeping position for not only headaches, but so many other aches and pains. It’s a tough habit to break, but it can be done. This sleeping position deserves its own blog, which I will do in the future.

 

Treating the Muscles That Cause Headaches

sleeping position causes of headachesAll of the muscles that originate or insert into your cervical vertebrae, and many that insert into your shoulder and upper back, need to be treated.  The treatments are all taught in Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living, in the neck and shoulder chapters.  Here is one treatment that will help you get relief.

Take either a tennis ball or the Perfect Ball (which really is Perfect because it has a solid center and soft outside) and press into your shoulder as shown.  You are treating a muscle called Levator Scapulae which pulls your cervical vertebrae out of alignment when it is tight.

Hold the press for about 30 seconds, release, and then press again.

Your pillow is a key to neck pain and headaches caused by your sleeping position.  It’s worth the time and energy to investigate how you sleep and correct your pillow.  I believe this blog will help you find the solution and will insure you have restful sleep each night.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

About The Author

julie donnelly

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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