The human body is designed to move. However, many of us have a sedentary lifestyle that can significantly impact our level of physical fitness and eventually make us weaker. Add to this the stress of repeated movements and a bad posture at work and you might experience discomfort, pain, and even injury.
To help you understand the importance of a workstation that is ergonomically adapted to your needs, here is an overview of our services for adjusting your home or office workstation. We’re also taking this opportunity to provide you with some general advice from Amandeep Nandhra, an occupational therapist with Clinique GOTM.
A word on ergonomics
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, ergonomics is a “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” An occupational therapist is an ergonomics specialist whose goal is to adapt a workstation in line with an individual’s work techniques or tools. To do so, they assess the individual, their environment, their working methods, and the movements they repeat.
The occupational therapists at Clinique GOTM can assess their patient’s work environment, whether at their home or their office, and adapt it to their individual needs.
Why is an ergonomic posture so important?
According to Ms. Nandhra, a work posture that adheres to ergonomic principles will prevent musculoskeletal problems which can lead to pain and tears in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
Incorrect posture at work, whether during repeated movements or when using the tools and office furniture, can put a constant pressure on your musculoskeletal system and result in pain. If someone has already been affected by a work accident or a sports injury, bad posture at work can aggravate problems and impair the healing process.
It’s also important to understand that even if someone affected by physical pain consults a physician, physical therapist, or relies on prescription drugs, they might still experience pain and take longer to heal if they don’t adapt their workstation to their needs.
With this knowledge, it will be easier to understand why an adapted workstation is so important to prevent pain and heal injuries.
Common mistakes and how to fix them
Here’s what Ms. Nandhra had to say about the most common mistakes she’s observed in work environments.
First, most people who work on a laptop make the same mistake: they do not use an external keyboard and mouse. Why are these accessories important? Because the top of your computer screen should be at eye level, it’s better to raise your computer and use external accessories. When the computer screen is too low, the worker will tend to stoop for long periods of time, which can create pain in their upper back, neck, and even shoulders.
Office chairs, for their part, need to be adapted to the person’s size. Too many people have chairs that are too big for them with armrests that are too high. In fact, the armrests should allow the elbows to rest at 90-degree angles and the shoulders should be relaxed. You should use a chair with armrests that can be adjusted vertically or laterally to position them closer to your upper body if needed.
Your chair should also be high enough that your knees form a 90-degree angle when you rest your feet on the ground. An occupational therapist will recommend that shorter people purchase a footrest. This will allow the chair to be high enough so that their upper body can still adhere to the ergonomic principles mentioned above.
Finally, another common mistake is related to repeated movements. Tools and accessories used frequently must be placed near you so you can grasp them without stretching and while remaining firmly seated in your chair.
Adjusting a workstation: the consultation
To properly assess a client’s work environment, an occupational therapist with Clinique GOTM will follow a certain procedure. Here are the main steps:
- First, the occupational therapist must understand what has motivated the individual to ask for an assessment of their workstation. Is it to solve a problem or prevent one? If the reason is medical, the occupational therapist will make sure to understand their client’s condition and the pain they suffer from.
- The occupational therapist will then evaluate how the worker carries out their tasks. Do they work on a computer all day? Do they talk on the phone? Do they often need to consult files and if so, how do they go about it?
- The occupational therapist will measure the individual and their workstation.
- The professional will carry out the changes they can make on site. They will then provide advice on changes that need to be implemented regarding the person’s repeated movements, the tools they use, or their workstation. It’s also an opportunity to explain the importance of following through with these changes to prevent the risk of injury.
- The occupational therapist will also be able to advise their client on how to make work techniques that have a potential to injure more ergonomic.
- Finally, the occupational therapist will provide a report that lists the recommendations made, and in some cases, the equipment that is better adapted and where to find it.
An occupational therapist also has the qualifications necessary to advise their client on active stretching techniques to avoid building up tension. As Ms. Nandhra mentioned, the human body is designed to move, not stay in the same position over long periods of time, even when the workstation is ergonomically adjusted. That’s why it’s important to take regular “microbreaks” that last a few minutes to stretch your legs. Getting up to go to the photocopier, filling up your water bottle, or even taking a few calls standing up are good ways to move about without interrupting your work.
Workstation assessment and adaptation services from Clinique GOTM
The team at Clinique GOTM includes several occupational therapists who, like Amandeep Nandhra, have the skills and experience necessary to advise office workers at their home or office.
Whether to prevent injury or following a request from a health care professional, don’t wait any longer! An ergonomic posture increases worker productivity! Clinique GOTM’s services are for anyone who works or studies at a computer.
Amandeep Nandhra is an occupational therapist with several years of experience in a private clinic. She has worked with many office workers to help them adjust their workstation and adopt an ergonomic posture to prevent injuries!