Sunday, October 28, 2012

Workplace ergonomics

According to The New York Times, the average American spends eight hours in front of a computer a day. The human body is not meant to spend such a large amount of time in one position, however since most jobs, classwork duties, and genres of entertainment are now based around a computer, making that space the least detrimental to your physical well being is a must. Here are a few general rules to follow:

1) Head/neck: the top of you computer monitor should be at directly in front of you at eye level and a comfortable distance away that you can easily see the screen (using computer glasses if needed). If you are doing any type of data entry, place the sheet of paper on an easel at eye level and as close to the computer monitor as possible. Do not place the paper flat on your work surface! It may not seem like much, but continuously looking down at the paper then up at the monitor will place too much tension on your neck. Use a monitor riser or even a phone book to raise monitors up. If using a laptop, place the entire thing on a riser and use a wireless keyboard and mouse.

2) Arms: your elbows should be placed at your sides bent at 90 degrees, typically resting on an arm rest of appropriate height. Your forearms should rest on the work surface with the keyboard so your wrists are not either too flexed or extended. As most standard desks are too high to allow for this, mobile work surface that you can raise and lower should be installed or you can raise your seating surface. Gel wrist supports for the keyboard and/or mouse can be helpful if you're spending numerous hours at the computer but they should be used as a cue to hold your wrist in a neutral position, not relied upon as a true support. Continuous torque on the wrist is the fastest way to develop carpal tunnel symptoms.

3) Back: your low back should be in a neutral position - not arched nor rounded. Your shoulders should be stacked on top of your hips, not hunched over. If your shoulders are hunched, see the two items above. Be wary of lumbar supports, they often put the user in too much of an arched low back.

4) Hips/legs: your knees should be level with your hips and feet flat on the floor. This can be accomplished by lowering your seating surface or purchasing a foot rest (or even a phone book!) of appropriate size.

There are numerous items on the market to help make your workplace more ergonomically friendly. Take a look at an office supply store or online if needed.

Most importantly, TAKE BREAKS! As stated earlier, the human body is not meant to stay in any position for a prolonged period. If needed, set a time every 30-60 minutes and change positions. Each break can be as long or as short as you need it to be, simply getting up for a glass of water makes a huge difference.

If you're having trouble assessing your workplace or continuing to have pain while at this position, come see a physical therapist at CORE Services, Inc. We can simply make a few recommendations as to how you can create a better environment, or assess and treat your pain if needed.


Monday, October 15, 2012

What's the noise my joints make?

There are several theories of joint "cracking" noises.  Some people think that "cracking" in the spine is a sign of excessive mobility and lack of muscle control of the joints, which if untreated could lead to arthritis.  Joint noises in the knees, hips, or shoulders is sometimes a sign of injury to the cartilage in those joints, especially if accompanied with locking of the joints.  For other explanations of joint sounds see this site.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three simple strategies to help you lose weight

More than one third of all US adults are obese. All that unnecessary weight can cause significant medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, but it can also have a big impact on your musculoskeletal system. A larger and more protruded abdomen can cause a "sway back" posture putting excess stress on your low back, knees, and ankles. Along with regular exercise, three simple strategies are key to helping you shed some pounds: eat regular meals, journal everything you eat, and bring your own lunch!

Check out this article via to find out more.

Eating habits are only part of the struggle. Regular exercise (even walking!) is essential in maintaining a healthy weight and improve overall health! If you are having any pain keeping you from getting out there and staying fit, see a physical therapist at CORE Services, Inc for an evaluation today!