The Ergonomics of RELAXATION

Most people think about ergonomics when they’re at a computer in an office. But what about during other activities that are more for relaxation—like gaming, watching a movie or just checking Facebook on your phone? Ergonomics applies to all the things we use our body for during the day—not just when you’re in the office at a desk. Here are some tips for activities that most of us do at some point during the day.

Checking your Phone

You may have heard the term “tech neck” or “text neck.” Well, it’s for real folks. Don’t bend your head over to view your phone or tablet. Instead move the device up into the viewing range OF YOUR EYES. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. Or just raising your hand to the level of your face in order to view the screen. And remember, your eyeballs can move! So, you can look down at your phone just by MOVING YOUR EYES and NOT your head.

Think about it this way: See the graphic below? Dr. Ken Hansraj did some pretty cool research to find out exactly how much pressure there is on the human neck when you bend your head forward to look at your phone. Even just a slight forward movement of the neck to view your phone can exponentially increase the amount of pressure on your spine, discs and muscles. At just 30 degrees of forward neck flexion, you get 40lbs of pressure…that’s equivalent to a 5 gallon jug of water! Check out the infographic from DegreeSearch.org to get an idea of just how much pressure you are putting on your neck.

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text neck copy


Via: DegreeSearch.org <http://degreesearch.org>

Watching TV

If your favorite chair is not ergonomically positioned in front of your TV, you are most likely craning your neck in order to view the show. Maintaining your neck in a rotated position for prolonged periods can cause joint dysfunction and muscle tension and/or imbalance which can lead to neck pain, headaches and even jaw pain. So, when you sit down tonight to watch your favorite flick, think about moving your furniture around to accommodate better viewing angles.

Gaming

Think about the posture of gaming exactly like you would if you were in the office. You must have the control/joystick/keyboard at the right height for your arms. You must have the TV/monitor at the right height for your eyes. And finally you must support your spine in an upright posture.

CRW_1831Kelly BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

Reading a Book

Whether it’s a real book with paper pages or a digital book on your tablet, don’t bend your head down to view the pages (remember the graphic above!). Raise the pages up to your eyes. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. If you are lying down or reclining, perhaps bend your knees and support them with a pillow, then prop the book on another pillow on top of your knees.

Internet Surfing

If you spend more than about 15-30 minutes checking email, checking Facebook or hunting for that perfect pair of shoes, you need to arrange for proper ergonomics. If you’re using a tablet or phone, it may be as easy as using pillow to prop the device as described in the “Reading a Book” section above. But if you’re using laptop, you should really consider a docking station at a table or desk so that your neck and arms are at the proper level. Check out the Workrite Ergonomics website for details on proper ergonomics. Don’t slouch, get off the couch! You know who you are if this pic looks familiar!

6 ways to combat text neck.

Longus coli strengthening:

 

Noodle thoracic spine laying:

CRW_1659Jill BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Pec doorway stretch:

Pec stretch door

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Supine stability ball:

CRW_1715Ryan BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Theraband Lat pull-downs:

 

Standing theraband row:

 

Blog by:

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMT

Physical Therapist/Owner – South Location

 

Back Pain Prevention

Chronic low back painIf you suffer from lower back pain you are not alone. As someone who has suffered three episodes of intense LBP within the past ten years, I am among the millions of people who suffer from this condition. It is the number one reason to visit your doctor or miss work, and if you have never experienced LBP you are a in a significant minority. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it difficult to move. It can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly. Discs that sit between the vertebrae of the spine can rupture or break down. Muscles can strain or tear.

We use our back all day, throughout the day, and it can suffer extraordinary forces through our frequent bad habits while lifting, carrying heavy things, or even during sitting. Even if we think we are using the best posture and mechanics, we still can be setting ourselves up literally for a rude awakening.

So here are the best 8 ways to prevent LBP:

  1. Always warm up before exercise or other strenuous physical activity, including work activities that involve lifting or bending.
  2. Don’t slouch or lean forward when standing or sitting. Your back supports your weight the best when it is in its natural alignment.
  3. At home or work, sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task.
  4. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support while sitting at your desk or even for long commutes. (Tip: Roll up a medium sized towel and wrap plastic wrap around it several times to hold it together. It will last longer and can work just as good as a $50 lumbar roll! I have one in my car!)
  5. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes if you need to be on your feet for extended periods.
  6. Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach strain2a-BBmuscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting. And ask for help when transferring heavy or odd shaped items.
  7. Limit excessive body weight around the abdomen. Maintain a diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, which will help to promote new bone growth.
  8. And last but definitely not least, if you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate at a faster rate.

Recurring back pain is often preventable and can often times become worse if we do not take care of our backs once an initial injury has occurred. If you have suffered a lower back injury, you need to take immediate actions to correct the reason you developed LBP in the first place and take proactive measures to eliminate these factors from occurring in the future.

Your best bet of preventing LBP from becoming chronic or recurring is to visit a physical therapist. Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who are experts in the musculoskeletal system. They can show you things such as weakness in your core muscles you didn’t think you had, faults in your lifting mechanics or posture, and even how the way you run or exercise can cause trips to the ER and years of pain.

Even if you do not have current LBP, I think you would agree that taking the time out of your day now is better than experiencing the symptoms in the future.

Remember:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  – Benjamin Franklin

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapists – South Office