With workplaces and life in general slowly returning to some form of normality over the coming weeks and months, the timing has never been better to remind ourselves of the importance of having an ergonomic set-up when working. The daily grind has changed for good over the last two years and that has been the most common reason for a patient to visit a clinician – seeking a cure. We sat down with Av Kumar – Senior Physiotherapist at EBR Physio and Team Physiotherapist at OHAFC and South East Melbourne Phoenix – for some insight into the common issues he’s seeing and how we can prevent them becoming our new normal.
The effects of COVID have been well documented and far reaching, with the increasing popularity of the home office being one of them. Not surprisingly, there has been a corresponding increase in upper and lower back pain and shoulder pain as well as a decrease in exercise activities. A sound awareness of the appropriate ergonomic arrangements both at home and in the workplace can make a significant difference in personal healthcare.
There are two simple but key guidelines that I encourage deployment of in both settings. Firstly, make yourself comfortable in your set-up and follow ergonomic practices (these can be easily accessed online or via an OHS professional). Secondly, change positions frequently – the human body was made for a variety of positions. If we don’t take advantage of the full range of motion, our joints and muscles will stiffen and feel tight.
So here are a few ideas that might help:
- Change office set-ups throughout the day – this might mean moving to a coffee shop for a short time, using a standing desk or switching chairs if possible.
- Make a walking phone call (if you’re still in your home office) or speak to the person at their desk (if you’re back in your work office) instead of sending an email.
- Rather than the afternoon sugar hit or coffee kick, try five to ten minutes of stretching or exercise.
- Set a “posture clock” – an alarm to remind you to sit up tall and evenly, with your feet on the ground and your neck in a comfortable position.
The body was made to move and move often. So sitting and looking at a computer for several uninterrupted hours is never a good thing, even with the best office set-up or perfect posture.
And remember, the advice and opinions presented above are those of a registered practitioner and may or may not be right for you. Please contact your personal Allied Health professional to receive the best advice for your individual circumstances.
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