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Ergonomics - Take One Step
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Low Back Problems in Sedentary Work Environments
Low back problems are not restricted to manual material handling tasks.  Sedentary work environments requiring a prolonged, static sitting posture also contributes to low back problems.  They are largely due to a loss of lordotic curvature in the spine and at the same time increasing in disc pressure when the pelvis rotates backward and the lumbar spine and torso rotate forward.
A chair with backrest inclination angle between 110° to 120° and a proper lumbar support will result in the transfer of the body weight to the backrest and a reduced disc pressure. Moreover, properly adjusted seat height and adequate leg space can all help reduce back stress.  Furthermore, sedentary workers should not adopt a static sitting posture for a long period of time. They should take breaks to stand up and walk around to improve blood circulation.
For additional information on proper computer workstation setup, check out our webinar at:
Office Tips:  Take a Break !
Office workers often sit for long periods of time resulting in reduced circulation and increased stress on the back tissues.  Short breaks to get up and move are more effective than longer, spread out breaks in helping to reduce the risk of development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Here are some ways to build short breaks into your day!
• Stand up to answer the phone.
• Place the printer away from your workstation.
• Rotate computer work with other tasks such as filing and printing.
• Drink water over the day but don’t fully fill your glass or water bottle.  Refill as soon as the glass is empty.
• Don’t’ eat lunch at your workstation.
Portion of this broadcast is adopted from Ergonomics Canada
The Benefits of Good Posture
When you practice good posture, you give your body the shape it needs to function well, and the benefits can be felt instantly and over the long run, in your body and in your mind.
When you practice proper posture:
You may feel fewer aches and pains
Good posture allows your spine to be as aligned and balanced as possible.  Properly stacked bones, muscles, and ligaments function smoothly and with minimal effort when you walk, run, or turn.  In contrast, bad posture forces your muscles and ligaments to strain for that balance.  All that extra work can trigger lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, tendonitis, and worn-out, imbalanced muscles.
You help protect your joints
An aligned, balanced spine puts less force and pressure on your joints.  Good posture reduces the risk of wear and tear that can lead to limited range of motion and arthritis.
You may feel more energized
You know that mid-afternoon slump at work?  Worn down or stressed, you sink into your chair.  It just seems like less work than sitting upright, doesn’t it?  On the contrary, slouching forces your muscles to work hard to hold you up, making you even more fatigued.  Proper posture arranges our body in the most efficient position.  The result?  Efficient energy use and less chance of fatigue.
You use your deep “core” abdominal muscles
Good posture and stronger abs go hand in hand.  When you stand or sit in proper posture, you gently engage your abdominal muscles, which support your lower back.
You will look good!
Align your body in correct posture and check yourself out in the mirror.  Does it seem that your belly has shrunk?  Don’t you seem a smidge taller than you thought you were?  You might chalk it up to that confidence boost you get from good posture, but standing tall really does make you look taller!

Portion of this broadcast is adopted from
Office Ergonomics
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the worker.  The goal is to optimize a worker’s performance, health and well-being.  It is considered a key to injury prevention.
Office ergonomics includes workstation design, job design and work environment.  A workstation that does not match the worker’s shape, size and capabilities may hinder the task performance.  A poorly designed workstation may pose undue physical stress on the worker due to awkward posture, application of force, repetitive movements, or a combination of these factors.  Prolonged work in such conditions can result in injuries of the wrists, back, neck, shoulders, and elbows in particular; and muscles, joints and nerves in general.  To prevent such injuries from developing, Health, Wellness and Safety provides ergonomic assessments for staff.
If you or your staff are experiencing discomfort associated with office ergonomics, contact 905-890-1010 ext. 2757 for an ergonomic assessment.
After a long winter of reduced activity or inactivity, why not kick start your spring with an exercise program?  Take advantage of the warm weather by doing exercises outdoors.  You may be tempted to exercise at the same level you did at the end of the last season, but such enthusiasm often leads to early season injuries.  Remember you need to get back into shape slowly and you should gradually increase training (i.e. mileage, time or amount of weight lifted) over a few weeks. You should exercise 3-4 times per week on alternate days to minimize injury and muscle soreness. 
In addition to walking or jogging exercises, incorporate some of the following strength training exercises.
Playground workout (source: Women’s Health magazine and Parents magazine)
1. Monkey-ups
Target: biceps, core, and back.  Jump up and grab a monkey bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing you. Hang from the bar with your arms straight, your knees slightly bent, and your ankles crossed (A). Pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar (B). Take three seconds to lower yourself. Do up to 10 reps.
2. Bench jumps
Target: core, buttocks, hamstrings, quadriceps, and heart.  Begin by standing on a one to two-foot-high backless park bench with your knees slightly bent and your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height (A). Jump down so you're straddling the bench (B). Jump back onto the bench, landing with your feet together. Continue jumping down and up as quickly as possible for 20 seconds.
Bench Jumps
3. Swing criss-cross
Target: abdominals. Sit on a swing and hold the chains, then lean back about 45 degrees. Extend your legs straight in front of you with your feet together and toes pointed. Open your legs slightly to form a V, then cross your left calf over your right, contracting your core muscles to keep the swing as still as possible. Return to V position for one count, then cross your right calf over your left to complete the set. Do 12 to 15 sets.
Swing Criss Cross
4. Jungle gym standing push-up
Target: chest, shoulders, and triceps. Stand arm-length away from the jungle gym, with feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on a bar that's no higher than your chest. Keeping your body straight and your weight on your toes, bend your elbows until your chest nearly touches the bar. Do 12 to 15 push-ups.
Jungle gym standing push-up

5. Bench dip
Target: shoulders and triceps. Sit on a bench and grip the edge with your hands shoulder-width apart. Scoot off the bench and extend your legs in front of you, bending your knees slightly. Bend your elbows and lower your butt a few inches toward the ground, keeping your back close to the bench; slowly press back up. Do 12 to 15 reps.
Bench Dip

6. Lateral leg lift
Target: hips, outer thighs and waist.  Stand alongside a step so it's on your right side and place your right foot on it; rest hands on hips. Press through your right foot to raise yourself up until your right leg straightens as you simultaneously extend your left leg to the side with foot flexed. Do 12 to 15 lifts, then repeat on the other side.
Lateral leg lift
7. Slide lunge
Target: buttocks and thighs.  Stand facing away from the slide and rest your left foot on the bottom of it; place your hands on your hips. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is almost parallel to the ground, but don't let your knee move farther forward than above your toes. Return to starting position by pressing through your right heel. Do 12 to 15 reps, then repeat with the other leg.

 Side Lunge
Proper Lifting Technique, summer clean up
1. Size up the load. Test it to see if you can lift it safely. Can you grasp it securely?  Make sure the load is balanced in your hands.
2. Get as close to the load as possible before lifting it.
3. Make sure your footing is secure. Do not lift objects that obscure vision and footing.
4. Do not twist while lifting! Move your feet so that they point in the direction of the lift as you turn.
5. Lift smoothly, but not slowly. Do not jerk the load.
6. Organize the work so as to avoid lifting from the floor or above shoulder level. Items to be handled should be between knee and shoulder height.
7. Keep the load as close to your body as possible. If the load is large and cannot be placed between your knees as they are bent, bend at the hips and waist with your knees relaxed. It is more important to keep the load close than it is to bend your knees. One solution to lifting a larger load is to get another person to help you. A better solution is to use mechanical assistance (hand trucks, carts) to avoid lifting altogether. GET HELP WITH LARGE LOADS.
8. Alternate lifting tasks with lighter work to give your body a chance to recover.
9. Use the same principles when lowering or placing the load after lifting. Place carefully
Stand Up Straight
One of the easiest ways to strengthen your abdominal muscles -- and support your back -- is through good posture.
You may feel like you're already standing straight, but in reality, most of us stand like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Practise good posture by bringing your head and neck back.  The key element is breathing in to tighten your gut.  That's the component that lifts your chest and will give you Marine-like posture.
Here are the five steps to perfect posture:
1. Pull your shoulder blades back slightly toward each other and down away from your ears.
2. Lift your chest up and out.
3. Pull your head back just enough to keep it in line with your spine.
4. Position your pelvis or hips to create or maintain a natural arch in your lower back.
5. Pull your belly button in toward your spine without changing or tilting your hips or losing the arch in your lower back.
Sometimes the smallest changes in your life can lead to the biggest results.  Sucking in your stomach while you do crunches, or even when you take the elevator, is a good example.  It helps your body not only look younger -- by skimming a couple of inches off your middle and adding them to your lungs/chest -- but it also helps your body get stronger, because you're engaging your abdominal muscles.
* printed from
Relax Your Stress Triangle
Many individuals carry their stress in the area known as the stress triangle, which includes a triangle formed by the shoulders, neck and head.  When we are under stress, we tend to tighten the muscles in this area, and keep them in this tightened state for quite some time causing pain.  This pain can be released when the muscle regains its natural length.
The following stretches and rolls can help relieve tightness in your stress triangle.  Remember to only stretch yourself as far as comfortable.
Neck Roll
• Stretch your right ear to your right shoulder, keeping your left shoulder pulled down
• Roll your head down so that your chin is on your chest.
• Continue on to your left side
• Begin with eight, build up to 16.

Shoulder Rolls
• Draw a big circle with your shoulders, one at a time
• Start with four, build up to eight times, going forward then backward.

Shoulder Shrugs
• Bring your shoulders up towards your ears, hold it for a count of five, and then drop your shoulder back down.
• Do this slowly for 6 times.

Standing Body Roll
• Let your head roll forward until your chin is on your chest
• Keep rolling down as your knees begin to bend
• When your hands are hanging near your knees, rest there for a moment and slowly roll back up
• Work up to ten times.

Massage Yourself
• Use your right hand to work on your left shoulder
• Work your fingers gently but firmly, beginning with your shoulder blade, moving up toward the neck and in behind your ear
• Then place your left hand on your right shoulder, repeat the motion, moving across your shoulder blade, up the neck to behind your ear
• Repeat as many times as is comfortable for you.
Preventing Vision Problems at Work
Both intensity and quality of lighting (illumination) are important for preventing vision problems at work.  Common lighting problems include too much light, too little light, glare and shadows.  In order to see fine objects and read in poor lighting, we often use awkward body positions.  Lighting should be evenly distributed throughout the workplace and should not create glare or shadows.
Here are some tips to prevent vision problems:
POSITION work so that it is easy to see.  Use adjustable chairs, well-positioned computer monitors, adjustable work surfaces, and task lights.
USE legible source documents and computers with good image quality.
MAINTAIN adequate humidity levels to prevent dry eyes.
ENSURE regular eye examinations to avoid problems of uncorrected or improperly corrected vision.
ENCOURAGE frequent changes in body position by varying tasks.
POSITION desk with window to the side of the worker.
POSITION desk so that ceiling lights are to the sides.
ADJUST window blinds or drapes to control light levels and glare.
USE task lights to increase light levels when needed.
LOOK up and away from work frequently to rest the eyes.
DO NOT hang glossy pictures or objects in places where light will reflect into eyes.
*  Portions of this broadcast printed from CCOHS – Office Ergonomics 5th Edition
Tips for Choosing An Office Chair

When it comes to buying an office chair, you will soon discover there are many different shapes and styles to select from.  Here is a list of chair features that you should consider to ensure your chair is ergonomic:

CHOOSE a chair with:

√  adjustable height, seat, arm rest and back rest

√  a backrest which is shaped to support the lower back and does not give way

√  a seat height which does not put pressure on back of the thighs

√  a seat that curves downwards at the front edge to prevent pressure on the back of legs

√ arm rests which do not prevent the chair from being drawn up to the desk or interfere with natural movement

√  a non-slip breathable seat fabric

√ a swivel mechanism so that twisting can be avoided

√  a stable base

√  five castors for easy movement


* Portions of this broadcast printed from CCOHS – Office Ergonomics 5th Edition

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