Working from home (correctly)
By With files from Dr. Chris Oswald (dc), Colby Bucci (MScPT), Dr. Sandy Huynh (ND)Features Patient Care Health Wellness
Evidence based ergonomics and advice for patients
What does your patient’s typical work environment look like now that they have been working from home? Are they hunched over at a desk? Perhaps they are sitting on a soft couch with no back support. We can imagine what their spine may look like while reading emails. Perhaps it’s time to introduce your patients to the world of ergonomics in the workplace. According to ontario.ca, “ergonomics is the science concerned with fitting the job or task to the physical and mental capabilities of the worker.”
To be more specific, ergonomics in the workplace “can reduce fatalities, injuries, and health disorders, as well as improve productivity and quality of work.” Improper ergonomics can result in musculoskeletal disorder hazards including injuries in the muscles, tendons, joints, spinal discs, and ligaments. Working from home has also resulted in an increase in stiffness and back pain for many people. Here are some tips to help patients improve their workspace to be ergonomically sound:
Get a good chair
As often as possible, it’s important to avoid sitting in bed or on a soft couch. If your patient has to sit in a dining room chair, that’s okay – as long as there’s a pillow supporting the back. Sitting up straight, as well as armrests are important, since they allow correct placement of the arms instead of tightening the shoulders while patients are trying to hold them up to type. Elbows should be at 90-degree angles and wrists are straight when typing.
Adjust the computer to be at eye level
Your patient can do this by lowering the chair’s height or picking a tall surface to work instead – like a kitchen counter or bar. They can also switch out their desk for a sit/stand desk. If the screen is below eye level, finding something to prop the computer up can work. It could be something as simple as flipping over a box they have lying around the house, or ordering a computer stand to elevate the screen.
When sitting at a desk all day, muscles don’t get to move as often and blood doesn’t flow as much as it should. Patients can fix this by taking 15 minutes in the middle of the work day to stand up and stretch the legs, arms, neck and back. This will keep a better blood flow and nutrient supply to the muscles to prevent discomfort and fatigue.
For some guidance on stretching and routines to follow, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE DOWNLOAD of Dr. Chris’ bestseller, Stretching For Fitness, Health, and Performance (a $39.99 value!).
Immune system support
Now more than ever, it is crucial that patient’s take care of their body and provide it the support that it needs. Eating whole foods, staying active, managing stress and getting quality sleep are all pillars of good health, helping the body systems function properly, including the immune system. For those patient’s looking for an extra boost, consider supplementing with vitamin D, zinc, probiotics, and medicinal herbs.
DR. CHRIS OSWALD BSc, DC, owns and operates The Centre for Fitness Health and Performance in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Oswald is also the founder and creator of MuscleCare, a product line ranging from topical ointments, to ergonomic pillows, to back supports.
COLBY BUCCI BA (KIN), MScPT, is a managing partner of The Centre for Fitness Health and Performance in Toronto, Ontario. He believes in a whole system treatment approach, consisting of manual therapy, education, lifestyle advice and exercise prescription.
DR. Sandy HuynH, ND, is the resident Naturopathic Doctor at The Centre for Fitness Health and Performance in Toronto, Ontario.
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