Posts tagged office

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 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:

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.

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.

Tips From The Experts: Dr. Talli van Sunder

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Sometimes we need a little help with ways we can stay productive and comfortable in a work environment whether that is at home or in the office. At Relax The Back, we realize the importance of movement throughout the day and want to help you have a more productive workday. We will be highlighting a number of individuals in different fields who have insightful tips and tricks to encourage you to move throughout the day to increase productivity, energy, and overall health.

Dr. Talli van Sunder is a physical therapist by trade and a health fanatic by passion. She is a 2008 & 2009 Podcast Award Finalist, a blogger, a wife and a mother. She created beinghealthy.tv to help others achieve better health and to share the lessons she’s learned over the years on staying healthy with a busy schedule.

Talli highlights her tips on how to maximize workplace productivity & comfort:

You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook for more tips and inspiration and catch her podcasts at beinghealthy.tv.

Ergonomic Workstations: Office Lighting Habits

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A vital part of the ergonomic workstation is proper lighting placement and the correct level of illumination. A bright and adjustable light can help ease eye fatigue, neck strain, and headaches in the office.

A majority of offices were not designed for computer use and lighting of the past was made for 20-40 degrees of horizontal viewing rather than the 10-25 degrees of monitor viewing we need now. Desk lamps incorrectly placed and windows behind computers can cause glare. Bright lights shining on screens can “wash out” images, which can cause you to strain your eyes to make out the objects on the screen. Having a high contrast between light and dark areas around your workstation can also cause headaches and eye fatigue.
Follow these tips to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Use adjustable lighting to illuminate your keyboard and paperwork.
  • When doing paperwork, use spot lighting to increase the brightness and reduce eyestrain and headaches.
  • Take into consideration all glare sources – windows, overhead lighting, reflection off of glass, etc.
  • Place computers at a right angle to any window.
  • Utilize lamp shades and glare shields to redirect light away from your eyes.
  • Never place lights directly behind a computer monitor.
  • Use blinds or drapes to eliminate bright outside light.

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.

5 Pillars of Ergonomics

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Ergonomics is the foundation for all of our back and neck pain solutions here at Relax The Back. Accordingly, it’s important to understand the 5 pillars of ergonomics. Read on to find out more about these fundamentals so you too can understand how ergonomics leads to maximized comfort and performance.

  • Pillar 1: Posture is dictated by what you do (and see)
    • Posture will follow what you are doing and seeing. For example, tablets and smartphones are smaller devices so there will be a change in physical body alignment, such as curved shoulders or straining your neck forward, to meet the screen. This can lead to increased neck pain.
  • Pillar 2: Movement is absolutely necessary – Intuitive Engagement
    • We know the importance of movement however the problem is we don’t do it.
    • Stand Up Desks, rocking footrests and chairs that move with you intuitively allow you to engage in movement throughout your day.
  • Pillar 3: No one-size fits all
    • Anthrometrics is the measure of man – no one is built the same.
    • All ergonomic products are made to fit the 5th – 95th percentile of consumers, but no one is built the same and they do not do the same things.
    • Everyone has a different body type and a different way of doing things – it’s important to find what works for you.
  • Pillar 4: Education is key
    • Without education and reinforcement, we simply forget.
    • A person may not know how to readjust a chair’s alignment after somebody else has used it.
    • We need ergonomic reminders.
  • Pillar 5: Neutral posture is the template (and the priority)
    • No matter what body part we are talking about, in regards to pain and health problems, the solution is to get your body back to a neutral posture position which allows for the least strain on you body.

Visit your local Relax The Back store location for an in-store ergonomic assessment or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Visual Guide to Office Ergonomics

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A comfortable workspace can make a big difference in your physical health, productivity, stress level and energy throughout the day.  If most of your work takes place at a desk, you are likely to suffer from pains and strains, loss of productivity and loss of alertness.

With proper office ergonomics you can avoid these pains and strains and stay comfortable at work.  From proper chair height to monitor angles, follow this visual guide to office ergonomics and be on your way to a happier, healthier workspace.

For more information, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit your local Relax The Back location to get an ergonomic office assessment from one of our trained neck-and-spine experts.

 

‘Sit, Stand, Move’ Facebook Giveaway

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The warm summer months may be approaching but instead of having a summer break and being active outside, a majority of Americans will spend their days at their desk jobs in the office. We are sitting down more than ever before in history and the consequences of this are not pretty. Not only does sitting increase your risk of death, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it also causes muscle pains, strains and fatigue. Whether you are obese or an active person who works out regularly, sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health.

Relax The Back believes everyone deserves a comfortable office and should never have to work in pain. To highlight the importance of movement and ergonomic workspaces as a whole, over the next 8 weeks we will be giving away 8 office products to help transform your work environment into a happy, healthy workstation. Head over to our Facebook page today and enter for a chance to win one of the following products:

We challenge you to incorporate movement into your everyday routine. It can be as simple as taking the long way to the restroom, walking over to your colleague to speak with them in person instead of sending an email or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Frequent movement throughout the day is the key to a productive, healthy and pain-free workday.