Sunday, 31 January 2010

Simple and Effective Ergonomics Guidelines

Do you suffer from Back ache and stiff shoulders?  Do your eyes strain? Do your knees ache? Yes?  So, how would you deal with it? Let us analyze the cause and understand the simple but effective preventive measures!

We always feel that the pain occurs only due to some degenerative or chronic condition and immediately rush to the doctor. After few days of medication, again the pain recurs. At times, pain can also recur due to the prolonged and static postures which inhibit blood circulation and take a toll on your body.

Why is there a recurring pain?

Pain in the back, stiffness in the shoulders and knee pain can also occur due to improper postural alignment, sitting stationary for long hours and undue stress at your work place.

What should we do to avoid such pain?

An ergonomic desk set up and proper working posture would help to minimize your recurrent Nagging pain.

Ergonomic Guidelines

To avoid eye strain, position your Monitor within the comfortable viewing position, i.e. at or below eye level and within your 60 degree viewing field (50 to 75cms from eyes).

To Position source documents in line with your screen and no more to 35 degree on either side, to avoid excessive bending of your neck and back.

Place the input devices within the recommended area to avoid strain on your wrists, arms and hands.

Head, neck and shoulders are positioned forward and upright (Not bent or turned)

Shoulders and arms are roughly perpendicular to the floor; elbows are held close to the sides

Thighs should be parallel to the floor and lower legs perpendicular to it. The lower part of the chair should be designed 25 degrees inclined upwards to support the thigh.

Space under the desk should allow the legs to move and stretch

-“A healthy mind in a healthy body" - this saying is very true for the computer users. While working on the computer, your body is at rest and gets typically no type of exercise. This increases the risk of obesity and many other ailments. So, to eliminate future health risk and recurring pain, ergonomic exercises should also be inculcated along with improved postural habits.

By exercising, the muscle starts working again from their stationary condition. This increases the blood circulation, flexibility of the shortened muscles and even strength of the muscle, making you feel more energized. It also reduces the risk of medical problems like Repetitive stress injury, Cumulative trauma disorder, computer vision syndrome and even deep vein thrombosis. Most recently, studies have reported the increasing dangers of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) among office workers, IT employees and even cab drivers who habitually remain sitting for too long.

Ergonomic Exercise

I would like to share few Simple and Refreshing Exercises to keep you energized all day long. Follow it regularly at your micro breaks or even at your lunch break, before having lunch.  Picture below is self explanatory, however more details are given in text below (reference: Paige Waehner -

Description of the above exercises:

  • (Diagram 1) Static wrist stretch - 5 repetitions on each side, holding period for 10 counts

  • (Diagram 2) Lower back stretch - repetitions on each side, holding period for 10 counts

  • (Diagram 3) Hip flexion - 10 repetitions on each side

  • (Diagram 4) Knee extension - 10 repetitions on each side

  • (Diagram 5) Chair squats - 5 repetitions

  • (Diagram 6) Biceps strengthening - with 1 litre water bottle, for 10 repetitions on each side

  • (Diagram 7) Triceps strengthening - with 1 litre water bottle, for 10 repetitions on each side

  • (Diagram 8) Trunk Bending - side to side bending with overhead shoulder flexion and 1 litre water bottle, for 10 repetitions on each side

This exercise workout does not replace the traditional strength training, but definitely keeps your blood moving if you cannot get away from your desk.

If eyes are not rested, and long hours are spent in front of computers, people may have symptoms like headaches, dry eyes, tearing eyes, pain in and around the eyes, inability to maintain focus, changes in color perception etc. So, along with the above exercises, also perform few EYE EXERCISES like moving your eyes off the screen and refocusing them on a distant object for several seconds. Rotating the eyeballs in left and right direction for 10 repetitions, closing the eyelids as tight as you can and opening them wide for few seconds. This exercise will help to prevent the chances of computer vision syndrome, which is very common with the computer workers.

If work pressure prevents you from doing the above exercises, you should perform the four basic ones, at least twice a day, two minutes each:

  • Take deep breaths slowly through your nose, holding for a couple seconds before exhaling through the mouth.

  • Keeping your shoulders relaxed, slowly turn your head first to one side, then center, then to the other side, and keep your head held at each position for three seconds before moving it to the next position.

  • Roll both shoulders slowly for 10 repetitions.

  • Move your eyes off the screen and refocusing them on a distant object for several seconds. Blink frequently to keep the eye surface lubricated.

So I hope you will make use of the exercise tips and get rid of that nagging pain.

From the desk of your health manager - Dr. Khushboo Bhagat

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