Archive for the Office Category

Top Apps For a Pain-Free and Productive Workday

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Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of deaths worldwide. Some reports have estimated American adults spend roughly 55% of their time being inactive. This is a key risk factor for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Staying on top of your healthy habits while working at the office or at home can be hard. While we may set goals in the morning to take breaks and walk around during the day or workout during our lunch break, it isn’t uncommon to get lost in work and before we know it the day is over.

From tracking your water intake to sending reminders to take a break from the computer, these apps can help you be on your way to a pain-free and productive workday while staying on top of your health goals:

  • Healthier: Break Reminder and Time Out: By periodically reminding you to take a break from your computer, these apps will help increase productivity and reduce health risks. Using Windows? Download Rest Break to find the same benefits.
  • Move: While the above apps remind you to take short breaks from your computer screen, Move sends daily activity reminders. The app provides over 300 exercises for little workout reminders all day long. Daily Exercises provides similar features for Android users.
  • Waterlogged: Track your daily water intake with hydration reminders. Staying hydrated helps you maintain energy throughout the day while keeping muscles and joints lubricated.  Water Tracker is a similar app available for Androids.
  • Office Stretches: Find relief from muscles stiffness and tension while at the office with this collection of short near-desk stretching exercises. Android users, download Stretch Exercises to find the same relief while at work.
  • Fitbit and Jawbone: While these are not standalone apps, these wearable tech devices act as guides to a better, healthier you. Track your steps and daily activity, sleep cycles, and food and drink intake with handy phone apps that are synced to your device.

Stop by your local Relax The Back location and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information on how you can have a pain-free and productive day.

Ergonomic Workstation Essentials

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Ergonomic Workstation Essentials When it comes to workplace wellness, your workstation set up plays a big role in your physical health, productivity, stress and energy levels. Sitting in one position for long hours takes a toll on your spine, increases the risk of aches and pains and decreases productivity and alertness throughout the day. Creating a comfortable workstation can make a big difference in how you feel at work.

A healthy ergonomic workstation is the sum many parts. These parts work together to help you stay comfortable and efficient at work while preventing pain and discomfort. Here are some ergonomic workstation essentials that can help you have a productive, pain-free workday:

  • Ergonomic Office Chair: Better comfort, better posture, and better health are just a few benefits of ergonomic chairs. Choose a chair that offers proper lumbar support and adjusts to your body’s needs.
  • Laptop Raiser:  Using a raiser is an easy, quick way to find greater comfort and ergonomic positioning while relieving the eye and neck strain often associated with notebook computing.
  • Monitor Arm: Effortlessly adjust the height and position of your monitor to reduce upper back and neck pain. Monitor arms make smaller workspaces more productive and keep valuable desk space clear for other uses.
  • Footrests: Leg activity is crucial to maintaining comfort and good circulation. By using a raised footrest you can counteract the negative effects of sitting, reduce lower back pressure and increase blood flow.
  • Task Light: Proper lighting placement and the correct level of illumination reduce headaches, eye fatigue, and neck strain. A bright, adjustable light allows you to position the light over paper documents and away from your monitor to prevent glare.
  • Standing Desk: Transitioning to a standing desk gives you the ability to easily change positions from sitting to standing to relieve stress on your spine, increase circulation, and mental alertness.

Visit your local Relax The Back location to receive a custom adjustment of the proper ergonomic workstation and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information on ergonomic workstations and solutions.

Transition from Sitting to Standing at Work

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Stand Up Desk TipsMany offices have begun moving away from traditional desks to transition to standing desks. Standing up to work can decrease health issues such as obesity and heart disease. Standing also helps prevent leg disorders due to poor circulation and keeps good cholesterol from dropping.

Using a height-adjustable desk helps you stay focused, productive, and energetic throughout the day while maintaining the ability to easily move from sitting to standing. Get the best of both worlds with these tips to transition from sitting to standing at work:

  • Flexibility is key: We are not designed to stay in one position for prolonged hours. Standing for long periods of time can also be harmful to your health. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day; making sure to stand for a minimum of 5 minutes every hour. Find a routine that works best for you, as every person is different.
  • Think about ergonomics: Optimize your workspace by placing monitors and keyboards at the correct height. Your elbows should rest at a 90-degree angle. The center of your monitor should be 10-25 degrees below horizontal eye level. A laptop raiser or monitor arm can help you find the proper adjustment.
  • Find comfort: Be sure to have proper footwear that has the right amount of support for your feet. If you work in a more formal setting, keep a pair of shoes at your desk that you can switch into when your feet start to bother you. Use a footrest to help increase circulation, relieve pressure on your lower back and provide raised foot support.
  • Focus on posture: Whether you are sitting or standing, it may be easy to slip into old habits of “easy” or “comfortable” slouching positions. Beware of your posture throughout the day. When standing, keep a relaxed stance, instead of a tense and rigid gait. When seated, keep your knees slightly lower than your hips with your feet planted firmly on the floor.

For a personal assessment, make a trip to your closest Relax The Back store and start experiencing a more productive and pain-free workday. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and information on ergonomics and workplace wellness.

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.