ergonomics Fitness

Why ergonomics plays an important role during this work-from-home period

Tired young man sitting with laptop and stretching   | Photo Credit: triloks

We didn’t fathom the perils of working from home, at least not in the first few days, when we were excited to log in sitting in our pyjamas, while also keeping track of the number of times the pressure cooker’s whistle went off. Then it started — the slow and niggling pain in the neck, the back, the arm and even in the leg. The dining table and chair, or the extra-cushiony sofa that we’ve been working off seem to be the main culprits.

Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary

Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary  

Ergonomics is more relevant now than ever. Dr Maj S Bakhtiar Choudhary, who specialises in Occupational Health and Sports Medicine, connects ergonomics to a positive relationship between “man and machine,” because better employee health always means better productivity for a company. Good ergonomics improves work output, and decreases the long-term detrimental effects on health, he says.

He takes us through our most common doubts:

Where are we going wrong when we’re working from home, with regard to posture?

The wrong ergonomics at a makeshift workplace can cause moderate to severe musculoskeletal pains: in the neck, upper limbs and lower back. Over the long term, this could lead to early inter-vertebral disc bulges, especially if you have also had poor posture at work.

Ergonomics is rarely taught in schools, colleges, and offices due to the lack of information. Constant viewing of the monitor in incorrect postures may cause asthenopia (fatigue of eye muscles), redness, and dry eye syndrome. Being online, logged in for the whole day is likely to create central fatigue (a condition where the brain’s ability to produce movement, is reduced). Many professionals experience lower back pain, neck pain with or without dizziness (vertigo), a numbness in the fingers.

How does exercise help to relieve musculoskeletal stress?

Exercises to do
  • Aside from static cycling, on-the-spot walking and own body strength exercises, here are a few yoga asanas:
  • Trikonasana
  • Virabhadrasana
  • Ardha chandrasana
  • Natarajasana
  • Baddha konasana
  • Utkatasana
  • Surya namaskaram

Exercise has a major role in preventing these occupational injuries. It also has a rehabilitative effect on senior employees. Regular aerobic exercises like walking around the house and jogging on the spot may help improve circulation, which is compromised due to prolonged sitting in fixed postures.

Is it okay to lie in bed while working?

Absolutely not! Do avoid using phones and computers while lying in bed, on recliners, or even on the floor. Workstations need appropriate arrangements. These situations put enormous pressure on body parts and may cause RSIs (Repetitive Strain Injuries), like pain in a particular area, in the long term. In fact, even sitting in bed and working is not a good idea.

Is it okay to work on a floor cushion positioned against the wall?

No, because one leans the head forward, putting a lot of pressure on the spine.

If someone does not have a desk and chair at home, what is the next best option?

You can use a dining chair and table. You may have to use cushions to make your posture ideal. If you have a chair with an armrest, remember not to use it while working on the keyboard. One should type like playing the piano; free hands with wrists lower than the elbows, and fingers, lower than wrists.

Make your work-spot ergonomically fit

  • When you sit on a chair to work, make sure your back is in contact with the back support and it should be at a 90-95-degree angle, which means it must be straight.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, use a foot rest, but avoid lowering the chair’s height.
  • Your monitor top should be parallel to your eyebrow and should be straight.
  • While using the keyboard, your wrist should be slightly lower than your elbow — imagine a 100-degree angle at the elbow.
  • Keep your mouse as close as possible to the body. Imagine a line drawn from the centre of the face to the centre of the monitor — position the mouse as close to this as possible. Avoid stretching the elbows. The shorter the lever, the lower the stress.
  • Even in the best of ergonomically fit places, avoid sitting for more than one hour at a time. Take a walk for five minutes.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 10:37:43 AM |

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