Ergonomics, the study of people’s movements while working, is a whole field unto itself. During our workshop this month, I will explore topics more specifically to meet individual’s days. In the meantime, here are solutions for common issues I see my clients come up against in their work day.
Relax While You Drive
What? Is this possible? Not only is it possible, but necessary for our safety and well being.
Driving is one of the most complex motor skills any of us perform during the day. It is also the skill where there is the most consequence if anything goes awry.
Chill Out: Set yourself up for driving well, by making sure you’re not too distracted. Listen to soothing music to help yourself chill out. I love the work from John Kabat Zinn on the stress reaction vs stress response- and it is especially applicable when driving. I have even been able to catch myself before I lose it- a couple of times- after getting cut off.
Set Yourself in a Good Position: Set your seat in a position where you can easily reach and use the pedals, while having your head to your pelvis supported by the backrest (some people will need to add a rolled up towel behind their neck/ skull to allow their head to rest against the head rest).
Hands at 4 and 8: I know, I know! Just try it! 10 and 2 requires an overhand grip. This can cause shoulder elevation (upper trapezius dominance) and encourage our heads migrating forward to the dash.
Let your thighs be supported: Gently rest your outer edges of thighs against the edges of your set. Your legs will be slightly abducted and externally rotated.
Double check your mirrors to make sure you can see comfortably in this modified position.
Work Well With Your Body:
Ergonomic advice can be as individual as our specific bodies and jobs. I will give some very general tips. If you have more specific questions, please reach out to your Physical Therapist.
Find the Right Seat: Finding the right type of chair is super specific. In general, research has shown that chairs that are higher and allow us to weight bear through our legs while we sit (think saddle chairs, pogo standing stools), allow us to reduce activity through our upper trapezius (necks and shoulder). These might be great options if you need to use your hands a lot for typing. These are also wonderful if you have pain that comes up when you sit still (constrained posture sensitivity).
Chairs with arm rests that can recline and have a moveable seat pan are great if your spine is sensitive to loading. You can use the arm rests to push off of and unload your spine. When you are on the phone or in between typing, you can recline your chair, getting gravity off your spine.
Take Breaks: All of us need to take frequent breaks even when we are doing something we love (like gardening). Work is no exception. Even if just to stand up and walk for 60 seconds, or lie down and unload our spine. Frequent positional changes helps us reduce the amount of withdrawal that happens within the body’s account- and helps us with longevity and preservation.
Cost of Chairs: It is worth noting here, that good chairs can be very, very expensive. Even my super low key mentors at Folsom PT make sure they have the best chairs that support their spines, and that can sometimes total in the thousands. That being said, there are some great cheaper options out there. If you have more questions about affordable chair supports, please feel free to reach out to me.
If you try these techniques, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!
Stay tuned for next week when I will write about moving safely through your evening.
Happy (safe) Moving!