Wouldn’t it be nice if you could right-click on your neck to find out whether it was the position of your screen, your eyeglass prescription, or the office lighting that was causing your neck pain and headaches? What if you could hover your mouse over your spine, to see if you needed more exercise, more milk, or more supportive footwear? Some of us would love an owner’s manual for the human body.
If you could access online help for your body, here’s what I think it should tell most of us:
- Exercise is medicinal. My kids might mock me for my Fitbit obsession, but I truly believe that I’m more accountable, because I know when I’m slacking, and so do all my friends and my very competitive sister.
- All those healthy lifestyle tips about good nutrition, not smoking, stress-management? They’re important and they work. Period.
- Use ergonomic work practices. Support your lower back when you sit. Maintain the low back curve when you bend and lift. When you lift something, bring it as close as possible before you raise it off the surface. Think before you lift something heavy – if you can push, pull, use a device, or get help, try that first. If your job requires you to stay in the same position for a long time (sit, stand, bend), try to interrupt that position when you can. Your body craves movement. Training for employees can help them to use ergonomic work practices wherever possible.
- Need treatment for pain? Treatments include ice, heat, rest, anti-inflammatories….the stuff we’ve known for years. Most of us know what works for us, to treat the pain, because we get that same pain recurrently. Why aren’t we spending more effort preventing the next bout?
- If you can’t adjust your own workstation, get help from an ergonomist (pick us!) or from someone who has been trained in ergonomics (come to our training!) A second set of eyes will see you in a different way, and will be able to identify awkward postures that you are not even aware of.
- Encourage your employer to use ergo design principles; a job that requires an employee to work in an awkward posture, repetitively, with heavy loads, is likely to cause an injury, regardless of work practices. These jobs should be modified to improve workers’ health, productivity, and quality.
Some day we may have body scanners like the sci-fi writers have imagined, which will diagnose and treat pain. But even the most creative writers have not, to my knowledge, envisioned a device which would prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Ergonomics may always be needed. Call on us. (519 623 7733 or firstname.lastname@example.org)