Ergonomics & Back Care
Optimising ergonomics at work & home can bring relief from back/neck pain and help to prevent pain occurring in the future. Total Back Care's consultation team is led by Dr Rob Harrison PhD, BSc (Hons)1st class, who has both academic & practical hands-on experience in the specification, supply & installation of the most appropriate equipment to meet individual needs. On this page we'd like to share some thoughts & ideas:
A study by The Work Foundation showed that nearly half (49%) of all absences from work and 60% of permenant work incapacity, in the European Union, are accounted for by back pain, neck pain and RSI-type conditions. It's a huge issue which can be addressed, cost-effectively, by optimising the ergonomic working profile of employees - which is best achieved on an individual basis. Things to consider include:
- Ergonomic measurements will achieve a basic profile of the type of seating which will fit an individual. However, they do not take into account some very important factors; like the length, height, width & depth of the armrest required, which can significantly effect the users outcome, particularly at a curved desk. It is essential to trial a range of appropriately sized chairs for comfort & support in relation to job function. There is NO one size fits all solution and two people with identical measurements may find entirely different chairs most suitable to their needs.
- A neckrest is not always necessary to overcome neck pain. The re-positioning of equipment on the desk or use of more appropriate ergonomic accessories like a laptop riser with built in document holder, can be far more effective.
- Working at the most appropriate height of desk can be more effective than replacing a chair; the two are ergonomically inter-related in order to optimise the working profile.
- The type of glasses worn by the user (vari-focal, bi-focal or fixed) can effect the optimal positioning of the monitor - again basic ergonomic measurements don't take this into account.
- Never invest in ergonomic seating & receive it delivered in a box! The professional installation of ergonomic seating, to ensure it is correctly set up & adjusted for the individual user (in relation to their working environment) & that they understand how to operate it to achieve the benefits it has to offer is crucial. Why make an investment if you don't know how to manage it or fully optimise what it has to offer?
These are just a few pointers from our years of experience - give us a call if you'd like to discuss your specific workplace needs in more detail.
When looking to purchase an armchair or bed to help relieve/prevent back or neck pain - take your time to find the best solution. It's essential to sit in an armchair or lie on a bed for at least 20 minutes to test if it's really supportive & comfortable for your needs. Things to consider:
- When trying armchairs, take your slippers! If these are what you normally wear at home, then the most appropriate height of chair can only be judged if you are wearing them. Remember too, that if you're a different height from your partner, you'll probably need different height armchairs - it's easy to match the fabrics but more important to achieve the best fit!
- Consider what you intend to do in your armchair; knitting requires a forward tilting support whereas listening to music is more laid back; the lumbar support positioning & function is entirely different in these two circumstances, as is the need for a headrest.
- When talking beds the words 'orthopaedic' generally is taken to imply a very firm mattress & 'memory foam' is a type of mattress which is not suitable for all users. It is important when lieing on your side or back, that your hips & shoulders can sink into the mattress to ensure the spinal column can rest fully-aligned. The most support is needed around the lumbar spine - the natural 'S' curve of the spine. Memory foam can be hot to lie on overtime & tends to restrict movement - not ideal if you have arthiritis; which requires easy movement for blood circulation.
- Never buy a neck support pillow without trying it first! Whilst the correct pillow can generate a significant improvement to the quality of sleep, the incorrect choice can throw your cervical spine out of alignment & exacerbate a condition. As pillows should not usually be returnable, for hygiene reasons, take the time to try out all your options first.
These are just a few things to think about - you're welcome to visit The Studio to talk with our Consultants & try out some options for yourself.