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Align with wellness: Healthy workstations

By Kristina Maxwell

Some people joke that after the age of 30, it takes nothing to hurt oneself. Sleeping can even be an extreme sport that results in numb hands and kinked necks.

However, the average person spends more time at work nowadays than sleeping. Is it possible that your workstation is causing havoc on your body?

Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their work environment. An ergonomically correct workstation not only promotes efficiency but can also promote and protect the health of the worker. Common workplace injuries include, but are not limited to: carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, neck pain and low back pain.

So, how can you make your workstation as efficient as possible?

  • Place commonly used items close to you.
    If you type a lot, put your keyboard close to the edge of your desk. If you use the phone a lot, place it close to you so that you can easily press the speakerphone button or pick up the receiver. Having frequently used items close to you prevents you from having to reach multiple times per day for them and will reduce undue pressure on the spine.
  • Use a document holder.
    For each degree that the neck is flexed (bent down or forward), the pressure on the spinal discs increases exponentially. Clipping or propping reading material on a document holder allows you to have the necessary paperwork close enough for use but allows you to keep your head and neck erect.
  • Sit all the way back in your chair.
    Take advantage of the support your office chair gives. When you sit all the way back, even an ergonomically incorrect chair will partially support the spinal curves. Not sitting all the way back either causes the buttocks to slide forward or slumping to result as fatigue sets in.
  • Take frequent breaks.
    Even the best workstation will not produce eight to 12 hours of comfort and injury prevention. The human body is designed for movement, not static positions. Take a break from your desk every two hours at the very least to move and stretch.
  • Get a work space assessment.
    Most physical therapists (physiotherapists) are trained to evaluate work space furnishings, tools and tasks in relation to the worker. An assessment will identify any risk factors for injury. The therapist will then assist you in making immediate changes or recommend changes and necessary equipment.

To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals, contact a healthcare professional at Align.

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline “Creating a healthy work station.”

Kristina Maxwell

About the author

Kristina Maxwell is a doctor of physiotherapy at Align, a wellness studio with an integrated approach to physical rehabilitative treatments and preventative care.