Ergonomics


Ergonomists have attempted to define postures which minimize unnecessary static work and reduce the forces acting on the body.

The goal of proper body ergonomics is try to keep your spine, from head to toe, as aligned as possible.

Also, it is important to stay active and avoid prolonged sitting or standing positions. Remember in your daily activities use your legs and engage your abdominal muscles instead of forcing the workload onto your back or neck. Take the time to evaluate your day to day activities and see how you can improve your posture while doing simple things such as getting out of your car or brushing your teeth.

The section on ergonomics can be endless. Here we will focus on only a few important areas of proper ergonomics such as lifting, sitting, standing and sleeping.

By being mindful of the ergonomic principles when it comes to lifting, sitting, standing and sleeping one can significantly aid in the management of their chronic pain condition.

Ergonomics: Sitting

Prolonged sitting and forward bending at your work station can aggravate disc pain, so take a load off your disc by taking breaks and lying down.

When sitting have your feet supported by the floor and not dangling.

Sit on a chair with a mild wedged cushion (thick edge at the back against the seat) that is sloped downward thus forcing a more natural arch in your lower back.  Chairs with proper lumbar supports and arm rests can also be helpful.

Try to maintain yourself aligned while sitting so that your shoulders line up squarely over your hips and your ears line up with your shoulders.  From the side it should look like you are sitting up straight and you are well aligned from head to hip.

Ergonomics: Standing

You may not believe it but the way you stand can put unnecessary strain on your back.

Lets get into an ideal standing position: Start by placing your feet about 5 inches apart, next align the pelvis over the ankles to create a natural lordosis in your lower back (your body weight should be equally disturbed on the heels and toes), now align your shoulders over your pelvis, and your ears over your shoulders.  It may feel awkward at first as most of us are used to our old slumping position.  With a little retraining you will come to find this stance more natural and your back will thank you for it.

If you have to stand for a long period of time consider resting your foot on a prop or footstool (about 5 inches high) and alternate between feet, one at a time.

Ergonomics: Sleeping

We spent more than 30% of our lives in bed, so invest in the right orthopedically designed bed for your back sooner than later.

The best bed is one that when you lie down it keeps your spine aligned correctly (head to hips forming a straight line), which is usually a medium-firm bed.

Sleep on your back or side, and avoid sleeping on your stomach.

When sleeping on your back make sure the pillow supports your head and neck instead of supporting your neck and shoulder.  Also consider a pillow under your knees & thighs.

When sleeping on your side use enough head support so your upper spine is straight (your nose lines up with your breastbone), and use a pillow length wise under your knees.  A third pillow in front of your chest and abdomen is optional but can provide added support.

Avoid sleeping in the fetal position as this puts pressure on your disc.

Be mindful how you get in and out of bed to avoid unnecessary twisting or flopping onto the bed.  The “logroll” method is often recommended.  Also consider stretching when you wake up before getting out of bed.

Again the goal of proper body ergonomics is try to keep your spine, from head to toe, as aligned as possible.

Also stay active and avoid prolonged sitting or standing positions. Remember in your daily activities use your legs and engage your abdominal muscles instead of forcing the workload onto your back or neck.  Take the time to evaluate your day to day activities and see how you can improve your posture from simple things as getting out of your car to brushing your teeth.