Workplace Posture can Prevent Injury

As you read in the blog on 4/28/15 neck pain can be due to poor posture during cell phone use, the same principles apply to workstation ergonomics.

With the increasing amount of computer usage in the workforce, the most important piece of equipment is not the computer on which you are working, but rather the chair on which you are sitting. Desks typically come at standard heights and are not adjustable. Yet, employees are different shapes, sizes and heights.

So what piece of the workstation is the most adaptable? The chair. By customizing the chair to fit the person, employers can see a reduction in common posture related employee injuries, i.e. neck pain, headaches, upper back and lower back pain. A good chair can be used to compensate for a desk, screen or keyboard that might be too high.

What might appropriate workstation posture then look like? The picture above does a good job of depicting appropriate workstation posture, but here are a couple of the highlights:

  • Be sure to sit all the way back in the chair: our muscles can only hold us for so long, so using the low back support is necessary maintain good posture for primary sitting jobs.
  • The top line of text on your computer screen should be at eye level (approx 19 inches from your face) so that your head does not have to tilt downwards. 
  • Shoulders should be relaxed while elbow are resting on the arm rest. If your shoulders are elevated this can contribute to neck pain and headache symptoms. 
  • Your hips should be bent approximately to 90 degrees with your knees slightly below your hips. 
  • Your feet should be able to reach the floor. **if your chair height needs to be elevated in order for your eyes to be in the correct position, then a foot rest or stool is necessary for your feet to be on the floor. 
If you sit with good posture at your workstation you decrease your risk of neck pain and headaches, you increase your sitting tolerance and can stay focused on work for prolonged periods of time. 
Even if you have good posture and appropriate workstation set up, prolonged activity (45 min or more) can still lead to a slouched posture or neck pain. Below are some exercises to think about doing every time you answer your phone or check your email. If you do, you can regularly give your postural support muscles the jump start they need in order to keep you going through those long days.

Set your shoulder blades by pulling them gently back and down. Hold for a few seconds and then relax.

Secondly, gently pull your head backwards so that your ears are in line with your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds and relax.

Joel DeMaris, PT, DPT, CMTPT
Isanti Physical Therapy

July 2nd, 2015

Posted In: General

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