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What Are Ergonomics and Why You Should Care

What Are Ergonomics & Why Should You Care?

by Jeff Williams, DC

As a chiropractor and biomechanical professional, I cannot stress enough the angst I get when I go out in public these days. Text neck is a now a serious condition. It’s not just text neck though. There are new studies showing that sitting all day is one of the worst things we can do for our bodies from day to day. 

Did you know that imbalances in joints set ANY joint up for problems down the road? If one side of the joint builds stronger than the other side, that imbalance will cause dysfunction in the joint which, over time, creates instability, uneven wear and tear, and worse.  

Muscle Imbalance - chiropractor amarillo

This can happen in your knees, your hips, your ankles, and even in your spine. This is obviously something we want to discourage and prevent. How exactly do we prevent this scenario? We start to address it by paying attention to proper ergonomics at the office and in our personal lives. 

What does the term “ergonomics” even mean? Let’s define it. One dictionary defines it as “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.” I would include a person’s efficiency in their daily home life as well. Another dictionary defines it as an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely – called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors. 

Simply stated: it is the biomechanically proper way to perform functions day in and day out to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on one’s body. That’s MY definition and I’m sticking with it. 

 Chiropractor in amarillo - ergonomics

The reason I left out the workplace terminology is because text neck doesn’t usually happen at the office. It happens at the mall where teenagers are gather yet remain separated due to being sucked into these electronic devices. 

I will try to not get too technical here but, anytime a person is chronically flexed or chronically extended at the waist, they set themselves up for degenerative joint disease down the road according to a paper in the British Medical Journal by Murray et. al. in 2017.

Proper ergonomics, in the eyes of this Amarillo chiropractor, is not bunk science. In fact, an entire industry has been created around the research that backs it. 

Take for example text neck. Kids spending hours looking down at a phone are shortening the muscle in the front of the neck while extending the muscles on the back of the neck and down into the upper back region and, depending on how far they bend forward, they can stretch and elongate the muscles of the low back as well. 

Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal right? This situation created imbalances in the joints of the spine as well as creating strain in the musculature keeping everything together and working. Eventually, those with text neck may begin to experience headaches, neck pain, pain in the shoulders, pain in the upper back, and a slumped, hump back, posture. 

The muscles of your spine are there to keep you upright with correct posture. Remember we said bending too far one way or the other is bad. What do you think happens to the spine with this going on all day long? 

 text neck - chiropractor amarillo

Chiropractors like myself have been preaching proper posture for generations and every ounce of research over the last decade proves us right. It turns out that your mother was right: proper posture is essential. 

Let us turn our attention to those sitting at desks all day long. The first thing to know is that you have to stop sitting at a desk all day long. How do you do that when your job requires it? You can start by getting an adjustable desk that will allow you to stand at your work station or sit at your work station while still getting your work done. 

The newest recommendations say that we should be standing 30 minutes out of every hour at minimum. Some are beginning to stand all day. I made the change to an adjustable desk last year and it has made a lot of difference for me. 

Let’s cover some of the harms of sitting too long according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Obesity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess body fat around the waist
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer

Here is an important quote from the Mayo Clinic website concerning sitting, “An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. However, unlike some other studies, this analysis of data from more than 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Another study found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for people who were most active.”

THAT’S a big deal. 

While you are actually sitting, there are some key things you can do to make sure you are biomechanically sound. This graphic from Rieke Office Interiors demonstrates the proper setup:

  • Keep the monitor at eye level
  • Keep feet flat on the floor rather than crossing your legs or ankles
  • Keep work materials straight in front of you rather than in a position causing you to turn your head all day
  • Keep ears above your shoulders
  • Keep shoulder above hips
  • Keep knees bent approximately 90 degrees
  • Keep elbows bent approximately 90 degrees
  • Use a lumbar support in your chair

Put simply, pay attention to your body and the stresses you put it through on a day-to-day basis. As a chiropractor in Amarillo, I am uniquely equipped to help you with advice, exercises, and treatment to help with any questions or musculoskeletal complaints you may have. Not only can we help you with suggestions on proper setups in the office, we also have a corporate onsite chair massage program where we come to YOUR work place with massage therapists to provide stress relief and muscle spasm relief for you and your fellow workers! Make sure you check out our Creek Stone website for that!

Just call Creek Stone at 806.355.3000 and we can get you set up and going. Same day appointments are usually available. 

Jeff S. Williams, DC

http://www.creekstonecare.com

Dr. Williams is an actively practicing chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, teacher, speaker, chiropractic advocate, vlogger/blogger, philanthropist, Anatomy & Physiology professor and podcast host. He is the owner of Creek Stone Integrated Care and founder and host of “The Chiropractic Forward Podcast,” addressing chiropractic care today through the use of chiropractic research reviews. 

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