Ergonomics is the Key

Ergonomics is the interplay between your physical environment and the activities you do on a daily basis.
Female stretching her arms at a desk

Most of us don't even think about our bodies until we get hurt. We are task-oriented creatures, and we expect that our bodies will always keep up with our minds' demands. But when an injury occurs, we move right to fear and despair - why did this happen to me? Then the focus is on "fix it; this pain is killing me." We search for the answer; it's right to Google these days! Then it's finding the right kind of medical expert or health guru to help. Reactivity comes naturally. But what if there's another way?

Ergonomics is the interface between you and the activities you do daily. This interface is between YOU and the TASK/ACTIVITY you are doing.

Let's first look at you!

It is your responsibility to take care of your body and be sure it's fit enough and healthy enough to meet the demands you place on it on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few questions and tips for making sure YOU can meet your daily demands:

Do you get 7-9 hours of sleep a day?

  • Repair happens when you get a deep sleep.
  • Taking naps for 10-20 minutes during the day is restorative.
  • Keep your room cool, free of pets and electronic devices.
  • Make sure your bed supports your body, and you wake up feeling rested.

Did you eat a healthy breakfast? Do you fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to perform all day?

  • Your brain and body cannot function without healthy food.
  • See a nutritionist if you need help.
  • Avoid "fad" diets.
  • Eat every 2 hours with your smallest meal at dinner.
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water.

Are you strong and exercise for strength, endurance, balance, and coordination?

  • 150 minutes a week of exercise where your heart rate and breathing are elevated.
  • Lifting weights and strengthening 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes - get help to be sure you are working your joints safely.

Do you have relaxation and FUN time in your life?

  • Do what you love - find your passion.
  • Get out in nature.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh.

Next, think about your task.

It's time to think about the task you have to or want to do and ask yourself the following questions.

Do you have the strength and body conditioning to do it without over-exerting?

  • If you have to hold your breath, use more than 50% of your strength, or grunt and groan, you need help! Overexertion causes long-term injury.
  • If it's a task you have not done before, pace yourself and take frequent stretch breaks. Take short recovery breaks every hour.
  • If you are sore for a day or so, that's normal - but if it's several days, you have strained your body. Now it needs more time to rest and recover.
  • It takes 3-4 weeks to condition your body for a new task; give yourself more rest and nutrition.
  • Prepare your body for the task with a warm-up walk and a gentle range of motion of your joints.

Is it repetitive?

  • Try to use your whole body rather than isolating your joints.
  • Take breaks.

Does it put you in an awkward position?

  • Keep your body as upright as possible.
  • Work in a thumbs-up position, don't lift your elbow above your shoulder in a palms-down position and keep your wrist straight.
  • How long do you have to do the task?
  • Complete new tasks for no more than 4 hours a day.
  • Take breaks hourly to stretch.

These are only a few of the many tips to avoid injury. Be in your body while you work, and take the time to thank your body for all it does by treating it with care.