Remember as a child being told ”Don’t slouch!. Sit up straight!” and wondering why your mother had nothing better to complain about. Well it seems there is there is logic in the words we have all heard hundreds of times. Correct posture may not seem like something of great importance but by just sitting correctly you may be able to ease or even prevent a number of chronic complaints.
Dr Roger Sperry (a winner of a noble prize for his research on the brain), indicated that people who sit appropriately function better in a working environment than those who slouch. His reasoning behind this theory is that workers who sit correctly with a neutral spine enjoy a better airflow allowing the lungs to intake 30% more oxygen than their working counterparts. Breathing in a greater amount of oxygen means that a larger amount is distributed to the brain which supports its ability to function.
There are a number of health issues that can be caused by sitting incorrectly at your desk. At first they may only seem like a minor ache or pain but they can soon develop into a severe disorder that may affect your ability to work. Some common disorders that you might encounter can include but are not limited to are Repetitive strain injury, back & neck problems and postural lower extremity pain.
Repetitive strain injury:
People who work at a computer on a daily basis perform up to 200,000 keystrokes during any one day. Now as you can imagine this number quickly adds up and if not seated correctly, or your keyboard/ mouse are positioned incorrectly you may find yourself developing a RSI in your hands, wrists, arms and even shoulders. Your employer is required by law to assist in setting your workstation up correctly and if they don’t they could be subject to repetitive strain injury claims. There are several types of repetitive strain injury which differ in severity. The more common of these ailments include Carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, tendinitis and trigger finger syndrome.
The majority of repetitive strain injuries are caused by performing any given task a large number of times. For example, the constant movement of a typist causes stress in the tissues which in turn triggers a molecular change which is an attempt to limit and repair any damage. Prolonged continuation of any given movement will eventually strip the body of its ability to repair itself and therefore can become a permanent condition.
Prevention is relatively simple and undergoing a few minor changes in your workplace could drastically improve your lifestyle. Whilst at your desk you should leave a gap of approximately 6 inches between your keyboard and the edge of your desk. This allows for your wrists to rest comfortably on the desk without forcing them into uncomfortable angles. Be sure to adjust the keyboard to suit your individual need and if necessary there are a number of creditable wrist cushions/ mats to keep your wrists level with the keyboard.
Postural lower extremity pain:
As office workers remain seated for the majority of the working day it is of the highest importance that you are comfortable. Being comfortable does not always present itself as a new mattress with plump pillows and although sitting correctly may at first feel strange and irregular it will probably just be your body adjusting to its new position. Slouching in your chair forces your spine into a curved state. This hinders your bodies ability distribute your weight around evenly. When sitting in the state for an extended period of time it will apply pressure to joints, tendons and muscles which can become inflamed and cause discomfort. On the other hand leaning forward in your seat for prolonged periods of time encourages your shoulders to roll forward or protract. Protracted shoulders put a large amount of strain on your upper back. If this is not adjusted you may find yourself becoming increasingly uncomfortable and restless which will eventually affect the way you work. If you find yourself suffering at work be sure to speak to an appropriate member of staff to see if there is anything they can do that will reduce and possibly even eliminate your discomfort. Small amendments such as swapping your current desk chair to one that suits your physique better will encourage you to sit upright and will enable your body to distribute your weight around efficiently. If you still find yourself slouching or you are unable to access a suitable chair there are a number of products available which have been designed to help improve your posture.
In summary listening to your mothers words of wisdom may just improve your ability to work and who knows, that promotion you have been chasing could be just around the corner.
This article was brought to you by Atrium Legal, specialists in helping workers who’s job has affected their help. They are experts in Repetitive Strain Injury Compensation along with many other areas of workers injury and illness.