Workplace Wellness: Positioning Yourself for Success - A few ergonomic prevention tips

Dr. Purushothaman
December 6, 2013

Workplace wellness is becoming increasingly difficult for us all to achieve. Many of us bring home the aches and pains of our workday. It seems hard to believe that being a "desk jockey" can be a bumpy ride. However, when we spend long hours sitting in one position doing repetitive tasks such as typing, a bumpy ride it is. And at the end of the road are carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain and stiffness, chronic lower back pain, eye strain and headaches.

Increasingly, employees are looking to employers for help in the form of comprehensive health and wellness benefits packages. Specialists in ergonomics at Exan Wellness, a progressive provider of workplace wellness programs, are seeing an increase in the number of office employees with health complaints like those above.

In order to catch these problems early, saving employees from chronic problems and employers from lost productivity and disability claims, Exan has become much more proactive in tracking employee health indictors. Their Health Portal includes an interactive "Health Tracker", allowing employees to manage their own health by taking pertinent assessments, tracking their Bio Markers, and practicing self-care before their problems become serious and possibly debilitating.

Along with tracking health indicators, there are several things you can do to make your workday a "smoother ride" than it has been. Consider the following:

Posture Makes Perfect

I'm sure you've been told this before: posture is important. Any activity that requires you to have your arms extended in front of you and your head leaning forward for long periods of time causes muscles of your chest, neck, back, and arms to be out of balance. Some muscles will feel like ropes tied with knots, too tense and tight to contract properly when needed; while others, rarely activated, will begin to fade away.

When you notice your shoulders hunch forward, take a deep breath and roll your shoulders back and down. The first few times you try this, watch yourself in a mirror. You shouldn't look like a soldier at attention, but you should look taller and more confident. Also, whenever possible, elevate the items that you will be focusing on to a higher level so you no longer have to lean forward.

Migrating and Hydrating

Use bathroom breaks as a chance to move and stretch, and instead of emailing your co-worker in the next cubicle, walk over to deliver the message. Drink plenty of water. Keeping well-hydrated will help your body to detoxify from unhealthy re-circulated air, lubricate your joints, help prevent the discs in your back from compressing too much leaving you much less protected against injury at the end of the day, and help avoid fatigue and headaches.

How Do You Create a Good Workspace?

Make sure your chair and desk are the right height for you. Your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. If your desk is too high for your chair, look for an inclined foot rest. Choose a chair with a good supportive back and arm rests that prop your arms when you type. Place your monitor directly in front of you, at arms' length away from your face, and with the top of the monitor at or below eye level. Select an ergonomic keyboard and wrist rest. Opt for a mouse that fits your hand properly. Use a headset so you don't need to balance the phone between your shoulder and ear if you talk on the phone as you type or write. Finally, make sure you have enough lighting.

Creating a good workspace will not only make employees happier and healthier, it will make them more productive.

Need More Help?

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can relieve pain, improve digestion, settle the mind, and boost energy. The National Institute of Health (NIH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Arthritis Foundation all agree that acupuncture is effective in relieving pain and helping to heal injury.

Naturopathic doctors, who study the interconnection between your work and mental and physical health, are consulted by many companies. Naturopathic doctors can help with information on juggling our family lives, our health priorities, with work pressures and workplace stress.

Seventy-five per cent of employees would like to see holistic health as part of their working relationship and 85 per cent of those polled believe that holistic health reduces employee assistance costs.

Workplace wellness providers like Exan Wellness can also provide more in-depth consultation on matters related to healthy workplaces, as well as other health issues, through access to a holistic variety of health professionals.

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