When setting up your workstation keep in mind these main principles of ergonomics:
1. Work in neutral postures. Meaning, maintain the natural S-curve of your back and be sure your arms are in a resting position at your side.
2. Reduce excessive forces.
3. Keep everything you need within an easy reach.
4. Work at proper heights.
5. Reduce excessive motions.
6. Minimize static load. This means, try to keep moving as much as possible and avoid doing the same task in the same position for too long. By working muscles differently you will reduce fatigue.
7. Minimize pressure points.
8. Provide clearance.
9. Move, exercise and stretch.
10. Maintain a comfortable environment.
11. Make displays and controls understandable.
12. Reduce stress.
Our back and neck problems are as individual as we are and I learn something from each and every person who comes to me asking for products or advice. I believe you will learn something too.
Mark worked for a large corporation for years before he decided to become a consultant and work from his home office. After three years of working in an office he had thrown together over a weekend, he was experiencing significant pain and had been referred by his physician to a physical therapist. I met Mark when his PT sent him to me for a new office chair. Long story short, not only did I fit him for a new chair, we worked together to change his office so he would be able to use all the healthy features of his new chair. Mark’s pain is gone, he is no longer under medical care and he is correctly using his body and his office environment to avoid negative stress on his spine. He is fortunate that the three years he spent causing injury to his spine does not seem to have become chronic or created any permanent damage.
Lesson #1: Transitioning to a home office requires expert advice and proper planning to maintain a strong and healthy spine.
Core muscles are a hot topic now among physical therapists, trainers and other body experts. Why? Think of your core as your body’s mid-point: the trunk. The core muscles include transversus abdominis, lumbar multifidus, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles. Not only do these muscles surround, support and stabilize your spine, but they also communicate vital feedback to your nervous system. Getting strong in your core — your center of gravity — can reduce back pain, improve athletic performance, prevent injury (better balance) and even reduce urinary stress incontinence.
The Chinese knew about core stability ages ago. In massage school we learned a little Tai Chi, including the concept of dantien, the center of balance in the body located about three finger widths below the navel. In Tai Chi, it is said that “the source of the posture lies in the waist” and “the source of the will is in the waist.” The waist is considered the commander of the body.
A great way to improve core strength is to use exercise balls. As you try to keep your balance, you’re activating all those muscles and improving their reactivity. Another great core strengthener is Pilates. Of course, with any exercise program, you’re going to want to maintain a gradual pace, maintain proper form and stop if you feel pain.