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Ergonomic Desk Guide

Your Guide to a Fully Ergonomic Workstation

If you spend a lot of time sitting at your work desk, it can actually cause some serious health issues if the workstation is not set up properly. Here are some easy adjustments you can make to ensure that you will maintain a healthy posture at an ergonomic workstation.

This is your guide to a fully ergonomic workstation:

 

Chair

Ergonomic Desk Guide

  • Sit on your chair with your hips completely pushed to the back of the seat.
  • Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the ground.
  • Your knees should be level to your hips or slightly lower than your hips.
  • Recline the back of the chair so that it is at a 100°-110° angle.
  • Support your lower back with a by using an inflatable cushion or a small pillow for extra support. You can also add on a lumbar support to your chair.
  • Set the arm rests at a height where your shoulders are able to relax comfortably on them. Another option is to remove the arm rests altogether.

 

Keyboard

  • Position the keyboard so that it is directly in front of you and centered with your body.
  • Sit closely to your keyboard to avoid overreaching.
  • While your shoulders are relaxed, position the keyboard so that your arms are at a 100° angle. Ensure that your wrists and hands are straight.
  • If you need to tilt your keyboard up, make sure that your chair reclines so that you are still at a 100° angle.
  • If you’d like to use a palm support, make sure that you don’t let your palms rest on it while typing, as this is not recommended. Additionally, try to keep your wrists slightly elevated when typing.
  • Keep your mouse as close as you can to the keyboard. It should also be at the same level as the keyboard.
  • If you need to adjust your seat height to accommodate the keyboard, keep a footrest under your desk for your feet to rest on. This way your feet will not be left dangling.

 

Computer Monitor

  • Adjust the monitor to keep your head in a neutral position when working.
  • The top of the monitor should be around 2 to 3 inches higher than eye-level when seated.
  • Your screen should be at least an arms length away.
  • Reduce glare and reflections on your computer screen by adjusting the monitor’s positioning.
  • If you are using a laptop, place it on an adjustable stand, and use an external keyboard and mouse.

 

Phone

  • Keep your phone as close to you as possible.
  • Wear a headset when possible to avoid holding the handset with your shoulder.

 

In addition to these guidelines, try to avoid slouching and leaning as much as possible, and don’t forget to take 1-2 minute breaks to stretch every 20-30 minutes. No matter how ergonomically correct your workstation is, sitting for prolonged period of time in a static position can significantly decrease blood circulation which can lead to other health risks. Take the time to set up your workstation the right way. By following this quick guide to a fully ergonomic workstation, you will be able to work safely and comfortably.

Gift Wrapping Ergonomics

 

Christmas Presents

Wrapping presents can put you at a risk for injury; apply these ergonomic principles to avoid pain.

Avoid wrapping on the floor

 Kneeling or sitting on the same plane the wrapping is taking place on causes you to bend and reach repeatedly.  Typically you will find yourself stretching and holding the awkward positions for extended periods of time. Additionally by kneeling or sitting you are negating the strength that your core and lower body can provide to stabilize your body and lift the items you are wrapping.

Use a counter or table as a workstation

Wrapping on top of a table and or counter is a good solution. A kitchen or dining table with a chair will typically provide you with a good working height while seated. However cutting the full length of most gift wrap still requires stretching and bending, and in some cases standing and bending, to accomplish. Wrapping on a table while standing is not as stressful on the body as sitting on the floor, but can still pose risk.

Use proper lifting techniques

When moving a larger or awkward item that you want to wrap, make sure you use good lifting technique.  Use these tips when moving the wrapped item to the tree as well.lifting_properly

  • Bend your knees and lift with your legs not your back.
  • Keep the item close into your body. This decreases the leverage of the item and the strain to your back.
  • If the item is awkward or too heavy ask for someone to help you with the lift. Alternatively consider using a dolly for heavy boxed items.

Keep often used items within reach

When arranging your workstation for wrapping place items such as scissors and tape within easy reach.  The need to repetitively reach across the table for these items can put stress on the low back.

Use Gift Bags

Gift bags are a great injury prevention alternative to wrapping. Gift bags decrease the time you need to wrap gifts and eliminate the need to reach for paper, scissor, tape, etc.  Consider large plastic decorative plastic bags for large or awkward items.  Added bonus is that you can eliminate waste by saving the bags for next year.

Wrap in shifts and/or take frequent breaks

One of the biggest risk factors for repetitive stress injuries is doing the same task for several hours. To avoid wrapping for prolonged periods consider setting 20-30 minutes aside per day for several days to finish your wrapping. Many people find this option impractical or would prefer to do all the wrapping in one day and be done with it. If you have many gifts that you have been waiting to wrap all at once minimize risk by taking small (30 to 60 second) breaks every 20 minutes to stretch.  Then every hour take at least a 5 minute break to walk around the house or get some water. This will give your body a chance to recover.

Outsource your wrapping

Consider using gift wrapping options at the store or online; avoid the risk all together and save time. This is the best option especially if you are currently injured or prone to injury.   Many stores have gift wrapping options in store or through online delivery.  Additionally, many organizations offer gift wrapping in exchange for a small fee that will go to charity.  Avoid repetitive stress injury and support charity at the same time!  All you are left to do is to place them under the tree…using proper lifting techniques if heavy of course.

 

Kids Backpack

BACKPACK SAFETY

Child Backpack Fit Guide

Backpacks are a practical way for students to carry schoolbooks and supplies. They are designed to distribute the weight of its contents among some of the body’s strongest muscles; however, in recent years, the weight of student backpacks has increased dramatically and has become a public health concern. Studies show that heavy backpacks can lead to both back pain and poor posture, notes the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). In fact, in 2001 backpacks were the cause of 7,000 emergency room visits and countless complaints of muscle spasms, neck and shoulder pain.

Here are some tips on purchasing a backpack, packing a backpack, and wearing a backpack to reduce the risk of injury.

 

 

Purchasing a backpack, what does a good backpack need

  1. Wide( > 2), Padded Straps 
    The bag should have wide padded shoulder straps. Wide straps and padding distribute the load over more area of
    the shoulder and alleviate pressure points.
  2. Padded Back
    The back of the backpack should padded as well to encourage the pack to sit flat against the back.
  3. Lightweight
    Reducing the overall weight carried begins with a light backpack. The stress on the back is caused by the weight of the bag, don’t forget that the weight of the bag contributes to the overall weight. Anything you can do to reduce that weight will reduce the stress.
  4.  Waist Strap
    A waist strap dramatically helps direct the load away from the shoulders and onto the much stronger waist and hip muscle group.
  5. Proper Size
    Use the chart below for general recommendations by age or for more accuracy you can take measurements of your child’s back.  The width should be from the outside ridge of the one shoulder blade to the other. The height should be from the shoulders to the waist line (belly button) plus two inches. See the diagram below to help with measuring.

 Child Backpack Fit Guide

Child Backpack Size Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loading a Backpack

  1. Load heavy items close to the back (the back of the pack)
    Heavy flat items should be placed against the back. This increases the body’s ability to support the weight with stronger muscle groups such as the hips and core.
  2. Don’t overload (see weight chart below)
    As a general rule the weight of the backpack should not be more than 15-20% of the students body weight. It should not exceed 25 pounds in any case.  Below is a table with the recommended weight to be carried based on the student’s weight.

Backpack Weight Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to wear a backpack properly

  1. Wear BOTH straps                                                                                                                                                                    
    This helps distribute the load more evenly and helps hold the load more securely to the back. Wearing one strap can lead to shoulder and back pain.
  2. Adjust shoulder straps so the backpack fits snugly against the back                                                                                   
    The back pack should rest no lower than 4 inches below the waist line. Remember that the waistline is in line with the belly button not the top of pelvis.
  3. Fasten waist belt and adjust strap length to secure and distribute the weight evenly                                                       
    The benefits of the waist strap can only be seen if the strap is worn. Don’t forget to have your student fasten it when wearing.
  4. The lower bulk of the backpack should rest in the curve of the lower back and not more than four inches below the waist
    This also contributes to allowing the stronger muscles of the hips and shoulders to support the load.

 

Other considerations

  • Monitor what your child is carrying to school each day to help him or her avoid carrying unnecessary items which add weight to the backpack.
  • Periodically check to see if your child is wearing his or her backpack correctly.
  • Assist your child with cleaning out and organizing the backpack weekly.
  •  If the backpack weighs more than 15% of your child’s body weight have child carry a heavy book or two under his or her arm.
  • Ask your child if he/she has any discomfort during or after wearing the backpack.
  • Help your child file work at home so he/she only needs to bring required work to school each day.
  • Talk to your child and teachers about ways to reduce backpack weight.
  • Some books can be found online at low cost. Consider purchasing a second copy to keep at home so your child doesn’t have to carry it back and forth.
  • Share any concerns about backpack weight with your child’s teacher or administrator.

 

Taking the time to make careful consideration regarding your child’s backpack use is important to prevent injury.  If your child does develop back pain have him or her seen by a qualified health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

-Dr. Rose, DC

Dr. Rose is a San Diego Chiropractor located in Mission Valley.  More information regarding the services he provides can be found at www.RoseChiropracticSD.com.

 

References

American Chiropractic Association. Backpack Misuse Leads to Chronic Back Pain, Doctors of Chiropractic Say. Accessed at acatoday.org

Admas, Chris. A Fitting Guide for a Child’s Backpack. 2006.

Howard County Public School System. Backpack Safety Guidelines