Body Postures and You – III

In the third part of our exclusive series on ‘Ergonomics’, Orthopaedic Specialist and Sports Physiotherapist, Dr. Zahra Hussain highlights the need to break away from ‘Monotonous and Repetitive Working Movements’ in order to sustain comfort and productivity at our workplace.

Amongst the various factors responsible for Musculo-Skeleton Disorders (MSDs), the most common cause in our daily work life is ‘Repetitive Movements’.

Repetitive movements are usually those actions that are repeated every few seconds for extended periods of time. They are often a concern when combined with awkward positions, high forces (speed) or significant amounts of time spent at the activity without adequate recovery time. Effects of such repetitive motions can be diagnosed through symptoms such as numbness, burning sensations, pain and aches, stiffness, spasm or tightness, decreased range or deformity, decreased grip strength and loss of power.

The common scenarios of repetitive tasks at work places include typing on a keyboard, holding the mouse, bending over the table/desk, etc. Amongst these what causes more danger is the ‘awkward’ positions or techniques we indulge in.

Steps To Minimize Awkwardness In Repetitive Movements:

  • Proximity: Keep the instruments you generally tend to work with (keyboards, mouse) close enough to use, making sure that your elbows are aligned between shoulders and hips. Avoid reaching out from the shoulder.
  • Angle: Wrists and forearms need to be parallel to the floor. Avoid any sort of forearm or wrist angles while typing or holding the mouse.
  • Padding: Do not rest your hand and wrist on hard edges. ‘Gel Wrist Rests’ prove to be useful in preventing work related injuries and illnesses.

Steps To Minimize Repetitive Movements:

  • Utilize Technology: Make frequent use of programmable ‘hotkeys’, autocorrect, voice recognition and other software features that help reduce the constant use of keyboards and mouse.
  • Mechanize: Use electronic staplers, collators and other tools for large, repetitive projects.
  • Vary Tasks: Break the monotony. Perform repetitive tasks in gaps and breaks rather than indulging in them all at once. Perform dissimilar tasks in between.
  • Vary Methods: Periodically switch process flow, tools, positions and hands to perform the same task.
Dr. Zahra Hussain
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