I’ve been a curious observer on how we humans interact with the world around us for many years. As a diver, and again as a dive instructor for GUE, I experienced first-hand the struggle of the modern human who desired to become a graceful aquatic being, while managing a lot of equipment to make up for our lack of gills and fins. As an active outdoorsy human stuck in an office cubicle at a desk, I have experienced the daily tedium that brings about various physical and mental coping strategies, as the body compensates for an ill-designed work station and lack of movement for hours on end. As a fitness professional I’ve worked to find ways to minimize the impact that "work" has on the body. In addition, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to evaluate a variety of occupations in the last few years. I now have a fully refreshed perspective and respect for the variety of tasks a human being is required to perform in modern society.
No matter what you do to earn your way in this world, most of our time is spent at work. Begs the question: Do you love or hate your job?! The physical, psychological and organizational interaction between human, task, equipment and environment matters. Each contributing component must be recognized and taken into consideration; this is necessary to develop better working relationships with the environment so you can thrive, not just survive the daily grind. It also means ergonomics isn’t just for work. What I have observed more often than not, is that people are unaware of their postural habits, especially at work, and are further unaware about how this impacts their physical well-being all day, every day, at work, rest or play.
Have you ever considered how well you operate within your environment or the work system that you are in? Ergonomics is the study of fitting the task to the human. The goal of ergonomics is to help prevent and reduce discomfort and injury, stress, or even errors, resulting from the task design itself. Ergonomic evaluations review the task, takes the worker input into consideration, and determines actions to address the problem(s). This could mean anything from a redesign of a work station, or simply bringing about an awareness of postural concerns and changes in alignment. Usually a combination of both. The goal of an ergonomic evaluation is to reduce the onset of musculoskeletal disorders and risk of injury while increasing the comfort and productivity of the person doing the task. Being a movement and fitness professional, I bring the individual human-being into the picture more than a traditional ergonomist once the evaluation is over.
Ergonomic risk factors can include:
Bottom Line: By becoming aware of ergonomics and the risk factors involved in our tasks, maintaining a healthy posture and using good lifting mechanics we can help protect our body and our future.
Give yourself a quick Ergonomic evaluation today!
As a quick start, check out your work station and just identify the following:
If you answered YES to any questions or chose the red graphic, you could probably use some ergonomic interventions!
It's important to note that doing things that seem innocent like reaching for files, grasping a stapler or folders or resting your arms/wrists on the keyboard or desk can have detrimental affects to the body. One might easily understand that swinging a hammer or carrying heavy equipment can also damage your body, but that innocent looking stapler is also a potential problem if you use it often enough. And don't forget, even an ideal work station can become problematic if the person using it is not practicing good posture and engaging in other movement throughout the day.
Helpful Ergonomic Links
Here are a few of my favorite ergonomic resources to help you achieve a smarter, more comfortable and functional work station (desk). You may also want to inquire with your employer if they offer any ergonomic evaluation services and take them up on it!
Want more information?
I’m also available for consult (ergonomic evaluation and coaching on healthy movements for your unique situation) for a more detailed outline of how to improve your ergonomics and movement every day. I strongly believe that through movement and ergonomics you can alleviate tension creating a more comfortable work environment and prepare yourself for success in your play time (sports, hobbies, etc.). Every person is unique and has a distinct posture they bring, so knowing your body is also very important before randomly doing “desk stretches” or switching up your work station.
No matter what job you perform you cannot go wrong by incorporating the following two actions into your work day, every day.
Take a Movement Opportunity (I call this a MEMO)
Enjoy and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
Move often and be well -
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