According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported, were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers upper body (the wrist, elbow or shoulder).
With most part of our day spent sitting at our desk and often performing similar functions – using the computer, mouse, keypad etc. injuries to the upper body add on daily. It may be due to improper use of equipment or stressing already weak muscles or joints.
Some suggestions here on easing and avoiding back pain, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and stress in general might be helpful.
Solutions to Avoid Back Pain
On average, office workers spend seven hours each day at their desks, which makes their choices of office chairs the single most important factors in managing back pain. Uncomfortable seats cause many health problems and lower productivity, so workers get many advantages from investing in quality ergonomic seating, even if they must pay for the privilege themselves. Quality seating could cost more than standard office chairs, but the wrong choice could cast more the in reduced productivity, pain management costs and damage health.
- Desks and people come in all shapes and sizes, so manufacturers create a number of a chair styles and shapes to cater to these variations. Good ergonomic chairshave comfortable seats with good padding, backrests, armrests, adjustable seat heights, lumbar supports, and rotate easily. Height should adjust over a range to allow at least 40 to 53 centimeters clearance from the floor. Seating depth should allow people to sit with their backs in contact with support while leaving space between the backs of the knees and the edges of the seats, so blood circulates freely in the legs.Good ergonomic chairs have backrests 12 to 19 inches wide, and if separate from the seat, they should adjust for angle and height to support the natural curvature of the spines. Workers can choose from many specific brands and types of ergonomic chairs, and Sitbetter chairs for bad backs work especially well for people who have back problems. Other special types of chairs include saddle chairs, which allow legs to drop naturally over the sides like sitting on saddles. This stable position helps people with lower back problems, and can even strengthen weak back muscles. Kneeling ergonomic chairs have no backs, and they place people in forward slanting positions, so they naturally sit in positions more natural for their spines.
- Some workers even prefer exercise ball chairs, which work just like their namesakes. The balls support active users who move around often. Slouching becomes very difficult, and the effort to remain balanced on the ball improves posture dramatically. Reclining chairs help people with degenerative disc diseases and lumbar spinal stenosis feel more comfortable when working. These office chairs often include swiveling tables and adjustable foot rests to facilitate working on laptops or handling paperwork.
- Lumbar support proves useful in relieving stress and supporting tired workers. However, good seats that support the pelvis and encourage good posture could substitute for lumbar supports. Padding on the seat, backrests and arms prevents people from adding tension to their shoulders, necks and backs. Rotating chairs help desk workers move quickly to retrieve office equipment, papers, files, and other materials from desks, tables, or filing cabinets.
Regardless of chair type, workers should take short breaks several times a day to improve circulation, reduce eye strain, manage fatigue, and encourage better posture. Office workers spend a good part of their lives in their chairs, and sitting on uncomfortable chairs could cause back problems to develop or get worse. Investing in comfortable, ergonomic chairs makes good sense for productivity, comfort, good posture, and better health.
Solutions for reducing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
National Institute of Health (NIH.gov) reports:
During 1998, an estimated three of every 10,000 workers lost time from work because of carpal tunnel syndrome. Half of these workers missed more than 10 days of work. The average lifetime cost of carpal tunnel syndrome, including medical bills and lost time from work, is estimated to be about $30,000 for each injured worker.
According to WebMD:
If you spend a lot of time doing activities that involve forceful or repetitive hand or wrist movement or use of vibrating equipment, you have an increased risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
NIH suggests these tips to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:
- At the workplace, workers can do on-the-job conditioning, perform stretching exercises, take frequent rest breaks, wear splints to keep wrists straight, and use correct posture and wrist position.
- Wearing fingerless gloves can help keep hands warm and flexible.
- Workstations, tools and tool handles, and tasks can be redesigned to enable the worker’s wrist to maintain a natural position during work. Jobs can be rotated among workers.
- Employers can develop programs in ergonomics, the process of adapting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of workers.
However, research has not conclusively shown that these workplace changes prevent the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Solutions for Eye Strain
Eye strain, blurred vision, headaches are common ailments of a regular office worker who is on the computer for most part of the day. Some easy precautionary steps and preventive measures can save you from these ailments which often result in reducing productivity and increased irritability.
- Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by forcing them to focus on something other than on your computer screen. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Blink often to refresh your eyes. Dry eyes can result from prolonged computer use. Blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh your eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink more often.
- Improve the air quality in your work space. Some changes that may help prevent dry eyes include using a humidifier, lowering the thermostat and avoiding smoke.
- Practice relaxation. Ease muscle tension with relaxation exercises. Place your elbows on your desk, palms facing up. Let your weight fall forward and your head fall into your hands. Position your head so that your hands cover your eyes, with your fingers extended toward your forehead. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose; hold it for four seconds, then exhale. Continue this deep breathing for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform this simple exercise several times a day.
- Massage your eyelids and muscles over your brow, temple and upper cheek once or twice daily. Massaging the muscles in the area around your eye (orbit) also helps relax those muscles, which may reduce some of the symptoms of eyestrain.
- Get appropriate eyewear. Most lenses are fitted for reading print and may not be optimal for computer work. Glasses or contact lenses designed specifically for computer work may be a worthwhile investment.
You can also find some other good tips on relaxing eye exercises at visonworkusa website.
Image target: http://healthmagazine.ae
Yoga for Stress and Pain Relief
According to NIH.gov:
Recent studies in people with chronic low-back pain suggest that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses can help reduce pain and improve function (the ability to walk and move). Studies also suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might have other health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may also help relieve anxiety and depression.
The researchers, from the Bangor University in North Wales, wrote in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Occupational Medicine:
“Integrating yoga into the workplace, at lunchtime or after work, may provide a time-effective, convenient and practical method for reducing the costly effects of stress and back pain.”
And there’s more:
Some good tips on healthy work practices are at the OSHA website. Recommended reading.
What practices or techniques do you recommend for reducing pain or preventing injuries at work?