Ergonomic Changes

Michael L. Reed

Updated 6/2014

“Ergonomics” refers to the manner in which individuals use their bodies to perform home- and work-related tasks. An ergonomic change could involve changing the type of office chair one uses at work, or using a stepladder to easily reach overhead cabinets or storage space instead of stretching overhead.

Unfortunately, many people allow their work and home environments to determine how they use or position their bodies. This can cause poor movement patterns and unbalanced posturing. These can lead to soft tissue strains and joint stress. These environmentally induced physical adaptations can lead to injury or, in the presence of spine-related symptoms, slow healing and prolong problems.

However, an individual can actually reduce movement and positional stress by proactively altering their home and work environments to better meet the needs of their body. For instance, many patients with low back pain due to disc sprains, bulges, or herniations complain of increased symptoms when sitting and less symptoms when standing. By investing in a standing desk, a patient can dramatically reduce the stress to the painful disc. This makes work and home life more comfortable, helps with the healing process, and ensures more productive work without painful distractions.

Ergonomic training strategies might include one-to-one discussions, handouts and pamphlets, videos, computer-assisted training, hands-on demonstrations, home/work visit or a consultation with an ergonomic specialist.