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What Is Ergonomics And How Is It Important To The Body?

Woman working on computerThe ergonomic is a branch of science that aims to learn about the human abilities and limitations, and then apply this learning to improve people’s interactions with products, systems and environment. It. is a process of ensuring a good fit of workplace products and systems in relation to the people who use them. It does not only focus on seating or standing position, however, it also applied to the design of anything that involves people including workspaces, sports, leisure, health and safety. It helps to improve workspaces and environments to minimise the risk of injury or harm.  It is essential because if the inappropriate posture continued, it may lead to symptoms like musculoskeletal disorders, fatigue, discomfort and pain.

Importance of Ergonomics

An ergonomically designed workstation promotes good posture and helps to keep bones and joints in the correct alignment which helps the muscles to be used adequately. It decreases the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degeneration or arthritis. It also reduces the stress on the ligaments that hold the joint of the spine together. It can help to counter the fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy. It prevents the spasm or strain due to no overuse of the muscles. It reduces the risk of backache and muscular pain. It increases the productivity due to the reduction in the primary risk factors for musculoskeletal disorder so the employees can be more efficient, productive and have greater job satisfaction. It reduces the absenteeism due to healthy and pain-free employees who are more likely to be engaged and productive.

A work is likely to result in an injury when it is performed frequently, performed for long period of me or if there is a presence of intense work. If your work involves force, heavy lifting, carrying, gripping, overhead activity, prolonged sitting or standing, vibration or extreme temperature; you are likely to develop a musculoskeletal condition. These risks can be reduced through hazard analysis, appropriate tools, ergonomic training and job rotation.

Ergonomics steps while sitting at a desk job

While in a sitting position, the following steps are recommended to improve ergonomic workplace: Ear, shoulder, elbow and hip in one line. Head, neck and shoulders are positioned forward and upright. Placing your feet flat on the floor. If they are not, having a footrest which helps to rest your feet at a comfortable level.  Computer screen centred, directedly in front of your eyes or 1/3rd superior level of the screen. It should be about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. Placing the keyboard in front of you when typing. Shoulder and arms need to be perpendicular to the floor as well as elbows need to be held close to sides which will keep your arms bend in a L-shaped.

Taking frequent shorter breaks after every 20-30 minutes to stretch. Avoiding eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically. Positioning the frequent used objects within easy reach to avoid repeatedly stretching or twisting.

Ergonomics steps while carrying or lifting heavy objects

Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. Overexertion and cumulative trauma are the more commonly movement that caused back injuries. Therefore, it is important to use a proper lifting and material handling techniques which can reduce the chances of injuries to the back.

The lifting stages include as follow.

  1. Preparing before lifting or carrying the load. Analysing it how heavy or awkward the load is. Is it possible to lift into smaller parts? If there any obstructions to the path.
  2. Lifting the load by getting as closer as possible. Try to keep your arms and elbows close to your body. Keeping the back straight during the lift by tightening the abdominal muscles, bending at the knees and load centred in front of you.
  3. While carrying avoid the twist or turn of the body and maintaining the hips, shoulders, toes and knees in the same direction.
  4. Settling down the load by keeping the head up, stomach muscle tight and not twisting the body around.

Ergonomics steps while standing

Prolonged standing can also negatively affect your lower back and leg muscles, tendons and other connective tissues. This can be avoided by adjusting the standing desk into more ergonomically correct position. It includes aligning the keyboard with your elbow height. Adjusting the desk and screen to your height.  According to the research, a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 sitting versus standing time appears to be optimal for comfort and energy levels without affecting productivity. Therefore, switching between standing and sitting should be utilised to maintain proper ergonomics and increase the productivity.

Biomechanical effect of improper posture

It is important to maintain the spine natural curvature however without the lower back support, the natural tendency for most of the people when sitting for a long period is to slouch forward. This slouching position affects the natural inward curve of lumbar spine (lower back spine) and pushes it outwards. As a result, it stresses the structures including muscles, ligaments and joints. Improving the posture by becoming self-aware regarding the position the shoulder, head and back will be the first step taken, however, a good lumbar support can be utilised either using an adjustable back support chair, portable lumbar back support or using a small towel or pillow. Back exercises can also help to strengthen the back muscles, leading to better spine support and even better posture. Exercises also help to increase blood flow to your muscles which result in less pain and tension.

Chiropractic care & it’s role in ergonomics

Chiropractic care plays an important role in correcting the joint misalignment which occurs due to structural shift. These structural shifts can be either due to sitting or standing for prolonged period, repetitive movements, lifting heavy materials etc. These activities may lead to structural instability, muscle strain, ligament weakness and nerve interference.

Chiropractors aim is to locate, analyse and correct those joint dysfunction or misalignments which helps to restore the normal function of the spine. Regular adjusting helps to increase the movement in the joint, reducing the tension in the surrounding muscles and conserve the body energy as the muscles are getting used more efficiently. So, if you or anyone you know, are under postural stress due to your lifestyle; get in touch with your local chiropractor today and experience the benefits of Chiropractic care.