Archive for the Office Category

Foods That Fight Fatigue

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fight fatigueFeelings of tiredness, weariness, and lack of energy can creep up towards the end of our workday.  Studies show poor nutrition is one of the key reasons. Food fuels our bodies consequently, what we choose to eat will have an impact on the performance of our bodies.

Instead of reaching for energy drinks loaded with sugar, fight fatigue with these foods:

  • Oatmeal: Fuel up on quality carbohydrates in the morning with a bowl of oatmeal. Glucose is slowly absorbed through soluble fibers, which provides fuel for our brain and muscles as well as keeping blood sugar levels stable.
  • Melons: Up your H2O intake with food such as watermelon. They are a good source of energy and since they have 90% water they help to prevent dehydration.
  • Nuts: A healthy dose of magnesium, protein and fiber, nuts will provide energy and keep it stable throughout the workday.
  • Sweet Potatoes: With a quarter of a day’s worth of potassium and energy-stabilizing high-fiber carbs, sweet potatoes balance electrolytes and keep us hydrated. Potassium also helps fight fatigue by relaxing the body and lowering blood pressure.
  • Bananas: Low in calories, high in antioxidants and healthy carbohydrates, bananas break down blood sugar for fuel. Combine them with a healthy fat, such as peanut butter, for a well-rounded energy boost.
  • Leafy greens: Fight fatigue with iron-rich foods such as spinach. Lack of iron can cause feelings of sluggishness and fatigue. Iron helps maintain energy levels, keeps blood oxygenated and maintains healthy blood pressure.
  • Chia seeds: Known as a “running food”, chia seeds are packed with protein and fiber (5 grams per tablespoon) to keep blood sugar levels stable. Try them in yogurt, water, or a morning smoothie.
  • Whole wheat: Fiber rich foods like whole wheat English muffins or bagels keep energy levels stable while helping to fill you up. These foods also keep up stamina levels.
  • Protein: Fish, beans, eggs, poultry, soy, meat, and low-fat dairy products are good sources of protein. Protein controls the release of energy from carbohydrates and fats, preserves lean muscle mass, maintains cells and assists in growth.

A Guide to Good Posture at Work

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Over time, ongoing back and neck pain can develop due to poor posture while sitting and standing. It is very important to be aware of your posture at home and on the job.  Not only can poor posture cause back and neck pain but it can also cause damage to your spinal structure. Fortunately, these pains and discomforts can be avoided with a few simple tips.

This infographic by Greatist can help you improve and maintain good posture during the workday:

“Sit, Stand, Move” Giveaway Recap

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Throughout the past eight weeks, Relax The Back encouraged fans to move throughout their day to have a productive, pain-free, and healthy workday. We emphasized the importance of movement and a properly set up workstation as well as the pains and strains that can be caused by poor ergonomics. Eight lucky winners were picked to receive office products that would help transform their workspace into a happy, healthy work environment.

Congratulations to the following Relax The Back community members:

In addition to giving away office products, we provided solutions to workplace pains and simple tips to help you move throughout the day. We truly hope these tips, solutions, and office products helped inform you about the importance of ergonomics and healthy habits, not just in the office but outside of work as well.

Office Work Habits: Desk Habits

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For many, sitting at a desk for work is unavoidable. A desk that is appropriately adjusted in addition to being well designed is an important part of an ergonomic workstation. A well-made desk should provide proper clearance for your legs, minimize awkward exertions and postures, and allow for proper placement of computer accessories.

A desk that isn’t properly set up or well designed can cause shoulder, back, and neck pain, which can lead to discomfort and performance inefficiencies. Generalized fatigue and contact stress are also a result of a poorly designed desk and the inability to change working positions.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Frequently used devices (phones, keyboards, and mouse) should be within comfortable reaching distance.
  • Work surface depth should allow the monitor to be viewed at a distance of at least 20 inches.
  • If necessary, remove center drawers or insert stable risers under table legs to create clearance for your thighs and legs.
  • Use a height-adjustable desk, such as a Standing Desk, to have the ability to change working positions from sitting to standing throughout the day.
  • Standing up from your desk every hour for 2 – 3 minutes can help reverse the negative effects of sitting all day.

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back store to receive a custom adjustment of the proper Ergonomic workstation.

 

Workplace Pains & Strains: Solutions

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Studies have shown on average we are sitting at least 56 hours a week. Even if you have an active lifestyle outside of work, you can still be susceptible to pains and strains from prolonged periods of sitting.

Having a proper ergonomic workstation is key to preventing aches and pains. Common pains that happen due to improper ergonomics include: back, shoulder, and neck pain, headaches, eye fatigue and strain, spinal curvature, poor circulation, contact stress, swelling and numbness of the legs and tingling of the arms, hands and fingers.

While it isn’t always easy to avoid improper ergonomic behavior, there are ways to help ease the pains. Here are some solutions to the most common pains you may have caused by your work environment:

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and solutions to everyday discomforts or visit your local Relax The Back store to get further assistance on products that can help relieve pains.

Get Moving

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Movement is key for well-being, but due in part to rapidly changing technologies and lifestyles, we have effectively removed movement from the daily routine. Many popular publications claim that sitting “is the new smoking,” “reduces your lifespan” and “causes cancer.” As an ergonomist, I receive many questions about incorporating movement into the workday that revolve around this negative reaction to sitting. My approach has always been to recommend movement. Sitting all day might be bad, but prolonged standing is not the answer either.

Let’s look at the facts: the typical American spends 95% of the workday sitting. Sitting in static postures for extended periods of time is hard on the body. Such sitting elevates spinal disc pressure, increases muscle loading in the back, neck and shoulders and lowers the demands on the circulatory system, which can impact heart activity, blood flow and fatigue. In fact, sitting for just one hour can result in a 90% decline in production of enzymes that are responsible for burning fat.

But switching to a permanently standing workstation may not be the best solution either. Prolonged standing can be more tiring and requires about 20% more energy. It can cause pooling in the lower legs and has been linked to foot pain, varicose veins and static muscle fatigue in the lower body. The solution is movement, not one posture or the other.

There is increasing evidence that varying posture throughout the day has significant health benefits. Allowing the body to undergo postural changes improves circulation, keeps the spine nourished and minimizes unnecessary static muscle fatigue. There are many ways to achieve postural changes and integrate more spontaneous movement into your day. If you are at a permanently seated workstation, try unlocking the backrest of your chair, adjust the tension to support gentle movement in your upper body when you lean back and look for opportunities to take “micro breaks” to stand up, stretch or take a walk.

To integrate more movement into your day, you can try a height-adjustable table. These workstations allow for the greatest amount of postural variation and have been shown to significantly reduce discomfort and health risks. A 2011 study in conjunction with the CDC found that implementing dedicated height-adjustable workstations and encouraging employees to stand for just one hour per day resulted in a 54% reduction in upper back and neck pain, and a 71% increase in focus. A 2009 Mayo Clinic study found that it was possible to burn an additional 340 calories per day by spending two hours standing. If you’re considering a height-adjustable workstation, think about the types of technology that are available, their energy requirements, the table’s ease of use and the intended use of the table.

No matter what your workstation setup is—seated, sit-stand or standing—the key to optimal health and performance is providing support for the body in neutral, healthy postures and integrating spontaneous movement throughout the day.

Office Work Habits: Chair Habits

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More than 50% of office workers say their chair is the #1 thing they would change. A chair that can be appropriately adjusted and one that is well designed is a vital part of any ergonomic workstation. A well-made chair should support your legs, back, and arms while reducing forceful exertions, contact stress and awkward postures.

Chairs that are made poorly can cause back pain and fatigue as well as restrict circulation in the legs and cause swelling, numbness and pain. Inappropriately adjusted armrests can cause awkward postures or fail to provide sufficient support.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Use a removable back cushion if your chair does not have a lumbar support.
  • Consider a backrest that is easily adjustable and is able to support your back in a variety of seated postures.
  • The seat should be height adjustable and wide enough to accommodate various hip sizes.
  • If the seat is not height adjustable, providing a footrest can help elevate the knee to relieve pressure on the back of legs.
  • Use a height adjustable lumbar support so it can be appropriately placed to fit the lower back.
  • Armrests should support lower arm and allow upper arms to remain close to torso.
  • If armrests interfere with workspace or cannot be adjusted, remove them or stop using them.
  • Chairs should have a strong, five-legged base.

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back store to receive a custom adjustment of the proper Ergonomic workstation.

 

Tips From the Experts: Tara Stiles

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Tara Stiles is a passionate yoga instructor and the founder and owner of Strala Yoga, a yoga studio in New York. Her approach to yoga, nutrition, and everyday well-being are relatable and inspiring.  Tara has several DVD series, two top selling books and is the designer and face of Reebok’s yoga lifestyle line.

As a busy and accomplished yoga instructor, Tara gives her tips for staying productive throughout the day:

She explains each tip further for maximum comfort and productivity:

1. Stay Hydrated: Keep a big glass of water with you at your desk and in meetings. It’s great for staying hydrated, cutting cravings, and also keeps you getting up and moving around (on your walks to the bathroom)

2. Take mini-yoga breaks: Even at your desk there is so much you can do. Easy twisting side to side, Alternate nostril breathing for focus, and eagle arms to release tension in your shoulders and back.

3. Office Yoga Class: Get your co-workers involved. Round up your office to participate in a lunchtime yoga class, or even before or after work class. At a studio or in the office, practicing together is good for everyone’s health and wellbeing and also good team building!

4. Take a Deep Breath: Find the ease. This is a nice result of regular practice of yoga and meditation and you can also practice during the day. When something is frustrating, take a deep breath or go for a walk if that works for you. Then come back and proceed with ease. Water is stronger than rock - this mindset works in negotiation, just like in yoga class, and the rest of your life. Stay easy and enjoy the ride!

 

For more inspiring tips and yoga tutorials, follow Tara on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook as well as on her website, TaraStiles.com.

Maintaining Healthy Motion in the Office

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Modern office work consists primarily of static tasks: computer operation, reading, talking on the phone, or sitting in meetings. Ergonomic research has alerted us to the fact that our bodies thrive on motion, and that maintaining fixed positions for long periods of time will degrade our health.  There are excellent suggestions for modifying our office routines to incorporate more motion, such as taking brief movement breaks, working from a standing position, or just remembering to change our posture more often.  Is there any other type of movement that we can do without being distracted from our computer and desk work?

Fortunately there is, and you’re sitting on the answer.  When we sit down, we immobilize the largest and most powerful muscles in our body.  The muscles of the pelvis and thigh are designed for the constant work of moving and supporting the body’s weight, they aren’t meant to be cushions!  When these muscles are forced to remain inactive for long periods of time, they stop burning calories and accumulate waste products due to decreased circulation.  Since most of us can walk and chew gum at the same, it makes sense to allow our legs a greater range of motion while we are sitting.  This is the principle behind the Core-flex seating technology, to allow the natural alternating motion of the legs to be continued while we are sitting.

Research on postural sway shows that when we stand still, the body maintains a constant transfer of weight from side to side 2-3 times per minute (Duarte et al, 2011).  This is not surprising when we remember that walking is the most natural motion (and the best exercise) for the human body.  The alternation of weight from one leg to the other is also crucial for spinal health, as the tilting pelvis flexes the spine and activates core musculature.  The natural motion of the Core-flex seat activates the majority of the muscles in the legs and pelvis, but in a voluntary non-distracting manner.  If you can walk and talk on the phone at the same time, then you can work on your computer while maintaining intermittent motion in your legs and core.  These movements stimulate your metabolism, and can boost your mental and physiological performance all day long.

 

Steve Pearse is the inventor of the Core-flex seating technology, which is based on the principle that a healthy lifestyle requires movement throughout the day.  His background includes engineering, furniture design, fitness and recreation

 

 

 

Duarte, M., Freitas, S. M. S. F., & Zatsiorsky, V. (2011). Control of equilibrium in humans—Sway over sway. Motor control.  Oxford University Press, Oxford, 219-242.

Ergonomic Workstations: Office Mouse Habits

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Creating a safe computer workstation entails finding the correct mouse size and proper placement. Today there are a variety of mice, trackpads and joysticks to choose from. Not to mention different sizes, shapes and configurations.

If your mouse is not placed near your keyboard or you are using one that is an inappropriate size and shape, you may experience contact stress, forceful hand exertions, stress on the shoulder and arm and awkward postures. Being in these prolonged awkward postures and positions can cause fatigue of the shoulder, hand and arm, as well as musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Allow your wrist to maintain a straight and neutral posture by having a keyboard tray or surface that is large enough to accommodate the mouse and the keyboard. If this is not the case, try one of the following:Use a mouse tray like the Clip-on Mouse Platform over or next to the keyboard
  • Use a trackpad if possible
  • Use a keypad without a 10-key pad to leave more room for the mouse
  • Install keyboard trays large enough for both the keyboard and mouse
  • Utilize a mouse pad with a wrist and palm rest to help promote neutral wrist position
  • Select a mouse designed to fit the hand you’ll be operating it with – e.g., right handed mouse for right hand use
  • Select a size that requires minimal force in order to generate movement and doesn’t require you to bend your wrist during use
  • Adjust sensitivity and speed to allow the pointer to be able to cover the full screen while your wrist maintains straight and neutral posture

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back location to receive a custom adjustment of the proper Ergonomic workstation.