Posts tagged ergonomics

Gifts of Comfort: Stocking Stuffers

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Gifts of comfort come in all sizes. Whether you are buying for your daughter, father-in-law, or family friend, we have gift ideas that everyone will be happy to find in their stocking on Christmas day.

Below we’ve listed our favourite stocking stuffers to help relieve pain and discomfort this holiday:

  • Sleep Mask by Tempur-Pedic ($29): Soothing sleep makes the perfect gift! Cool and comfortable, this mask is made with pressure-relieving TEMPUR material, so you can nod off in total darkness. Perfect for loved ones who travel often.
  • ErgoTravel Keyboard ($40): This waterproof, flexible, and worry-free keyboard prevents strain on arms, wrists, and back while providing ergonomic support for your hard-working loved one.
  • Moji 360 Foot Massager ($39): Know a loved one that can never have too many foot massages? The Moji 360 mimics the touch of a professional massage therapist to revitalize sore, tired, and aching feet.
  • Self-Inflating Back Rest ($40): For work, at the movies, or in the car, this lumbar support is easy-to-use and easy-to-store. This is a gift that keeps on giving, long after the holiday season.
  • TEMPUR All-Purpose Pillow ($49): This pillow’s unique “peanut” shape allows for multi-purpose ergonomic support. Its space-saving size makes it a perfect travel neck roll, lumbar cushion, or leg spacer.

Add these great gifts to your loved ones (or your own) stocking this year. Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with a trained specialist who can help you find the perfect gift based on specific needs. Also be sure to visit us online (www.relaxtheback.com) and on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Taking Work to Bed

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Does working away on a laptop and spreadsheets in bed lead to more productivity and comfort than working behind a desk? A recent poll found nearly 1 in 5 employees spend two to ten hours working from bed in a given week. A mobile-security company polled its workers to find half of the 1,000 employees work from bed. Many claim to respond or read work emails, addressing colleagues that may work in different time zones. While this may be a comfortable theory, ergonomically speaking it is not a good practice.

WSJ looks at the negative affects of working in bed. Not only is it physically demanding on your body, it also has negative emotional and mental affects. Consider making your bedroom a device-free zone and make efforts to have a more productive day while at the office. However, if you believe you get your best work done this way, we recommend using a Bed Wedge System to properly support your back while you work.

Working in Bed

A Brief History: The Evolution of Ergonomics

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In the 1940s, an advancement of machinery and equipment during and post-World War II lead to a disharmony between people and the equipment they were using. There was an increased risk of human error and poor user performance. In order to avoid negative effects of human limitations, equipment had to be designed to take advantage of human capabilities consequently, establishing the scientific discipline we know today as Ergonomics. While the early focus of ergonomics was on aviation and aircraft controls, it has become a standard practice in designing computers, cars, and other consumer products.

With 33% of work-related injuries being caused by poor work station setup, occupational ergonomics is a top priority for many employers and employees. Over the years, there has been a shift in the way companies look at ergonomics. Companies were reactive when addressing proper ergonomics, oftentimes waiting to react to injuries or employee complaints, whereas today, the approach is proactive. Companies use tools, equipment, and best practices to prevent injuries and reduce the level of exposure. Companies are now encouraged to have integrated design phases, which take equipment, products, layout, and standard ergonomic guidelines into account when designing workspaces. Another shift in the discipline has been the method of assessment. Years ago, employees would attend classroom training sessions, in-person evaluations by a certified staff member, and chair-fitting rooms. Today, there is a stronger emphasis on employee-driven, in-office assessments. Chairs and workstations offer full range of adjustability, workstation design is based on computer use, and employees are able to assess and adjust their own workstations.

Here at Relax The Back, we continue to learn and improve our knowledge on ergonomics, and the tools and equipment that can be used to reduce and prevent injuries.  Read more information on ergonomics or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists about a free workstation assessment.

 

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.

 

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.