Archive for the ‘Ergonomics’ category

Sitting…Getting a “Bum” Rap

October 31, 2017

See what we did there? 😉

Pardon the title pun but recently there was yet another article about the dangers of sitting.  “Sitting Most of the Day May Lead to an Early Grave”  was the headline. This,  on the heels of “Sitting is the New Smoking” and other articles about sitting,  is creating some major concern for those millions of people that predominantly sit for a living.

99373800-1024x537The human body was designed for us Homo Sapiens to survive well at the top of the food chain.  Living things that were mobile tended to have clear advantages over those that weren’t.  Mobility is a key feature of the human blueprint.  In fact, per studies quoted in the article above and more, we are severely penalized if we don’t use this “gift” of mobility.

We live in gravity 24/7 and the goal of gravity is to drive everything, including us to the center of earth.  Not a pleasant thought when you think about it.   However, our bodies are designed to live in gravity.  We NEED gravity to survive.  Resisting gravity is critical to our health.  In fact accelerated aging is being linked to those who don’t or can’t resist gravity.

space-hair-nybergIf we aren’t being mobile, gravity is winning.  A wonderful book about the effects of sitting is “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals” by Joan Vernikos, Ph.D.(NASA).  Her research found similar physical maladies with astronauts who lived in no gravity environments (space) and office workers, whom while sitting are not exerting against gravity.  Apparently the body thrives on motion and the exertion against gravity.

Well what are the millions of people that sit for a living supposed to do with all this doom and gloom around sitting?  Not go to work?  Or stand up all day?  The good news is there are things we can do to counter the effects of sitting.  According to Dr. Vernikos, merely standing up often during your day can counter the effects of sitting.  Move your printer or cell phone away from your desk so that you need to get up to attend to them.  Set an alarm every 20 minutes to stand up.lxpu-1432506798-133948-full

How about this simple very healthy tip-DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!  Not only will you stay hydrated but you will be forced to stand up and walk to the bathroom. Therapeutic indeed!!

And last but not least, who TRAINED you how to sit?  Yes, there are ways to sit properly.  In fact if you don’t sit properly your symptoms can be: neck and shoulder discomfort, low back pain, headaches, wrist and forearm discomfort or pain, eye strain, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise.

Today, millions of people sit in positions that are dictated by where their keyboard lies, where their mouse is located, the position of their monitor and whatever their chair settings are adjusted to.   They are being victims to never before being taught how to sit properly.  So basic, yet so vital.

Sittingsafe® is a new form of office ergonomic training.  You can learn how to positon your body in optimal positions, how to stretch away discomfort and stress and how to maintain your body’s mobility.    We don’t have to be the victims of sitting.  We can sit and be healthy.  You just need to know how!!

Dennis Downing, CEO

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Getting Older Doesn’t Have To Hurt!

October 16, 2017

payments-2Aging is an interesting process.  We get wiser, more confident in who we are, more competent in our chosen line of work and hobbies, and overall settle in to our way of life.

There is also another phenomenon that occurs.  Most people as they age experience an onset of aches and pains.  It isn’t something that just happens overnight.  It happens via an insidious gradient, little by little until one day it registers as discomfort or pain.

Then with life going 100 miles per hour, we ignore this non-optimum condition with hopes of it disappearing, or simply acquiescing and justify it by assuming it is just “aging”.

Let me pose this question:  Do you feel discomfort or pain on your body?  Many readers will answer “yes” to this question.  After your “personal pain audit” you may have discovered something not optimum in your low back, neck and shoulders, dull head ache, wrist or forearms.plumber-with-back-pain_1368-544

I have asked people “Why do you put up with this discomfort?”  Many answer “I guess it is just me aging” and most don’t know it is possible to get rid of it.

I can go on a major rant right now on how poorly served we are by a society that has never taught us how to manage our own pain and discomfort, instead directing us to see prescriptions and surgeons.  But I will refrain!

The cycle of a typical sprain/strain injury event is fatigue (a muscle or joint tiring from sustained postures, repetitive stress, etc.), discomfort, pain and then if unattended to, the injury.

We have been dedicated, for 25 years, to teaching employees and management how to self manage their own health.  It is so simple to do!  Cumulative micro-trauma is the cause of most sprain/strains. The discomfort that you earlier detected on your body is stored micro trauma.

For most of us, all we have to do are 3 things to alleviate it or even permanently get rid of it.

Isolate the cause—what postures or repetitive activity is the primary cause.

Change the physical behaviors that are causing it (lifting, pushing, pulling incorrectly, sitting incorrectly, keyboard, mouse, monitor in incorrect positions, etc.)

Relieve aches and pains with the correct stretches using the correct technique in the correct order.

We have discovered that much musculoskeletal discomfort and pain is preventable.  Backsafe® is our training workshops that teaches employees in just 2 hours how to do physical work on and off the job and teaches simple yet powerful stretches that rid the body of that pent up discomfort creeping in on their lifestyles.  This pent up discomfort left unattended can accumulate to a point that causes the $50,000 claim and lost work time.  Finally a workable solution to back and shoulder claims, right!!

Sittingsafe® is our office ergonomic training program that teaches people how to sit correctly and how to adjust their existing workstations so not to cause pain and discomfort; and the Sittingsafe stretches are almost too good to be true!  Headaches, neck and shoulder pain, low back pain have disappeared by just knowing what stretch to do to relieve it, combined with correcting the exacerbating sitting and working positions.

draft_lens17603987module148010435photo_1296861127No-medicationIn summary, aging doesn’t have to be accompanied by pain and discomfort.  We don’t need pain medications to live our lives.  The body is a miraculous contrivance.  It heals well if given the chance.

We teach people what we all should have learned years ago—How to self manage musculoskeletal discomfort; how to prevent painful injuries; and how to stay away from pain medications and unnecessary surgeries.

Contact us (800.775.225) to discuss how we can help put your employees more in charge of their own health.  It is a win-win.  Employees not in pain and windfall savings for the company.

Back Pain is NOT a Normal Condition!

June 27, 2017

back-painI recently read an article that claimed that back pain is a normal human condition!  Although it is true that 80% of the US population will suffer from back pain in their lives, it does not mean it is a “normal human condition”.

It would be like saying illiteracy in the 1800’s was a “normal human condition”.  Granted it was “normal” to be uneducated at the time, but to brand that condition a “normal human condition” would have been a major mischaracterization as in 2003 in many parts of the world the literacy rate was over 90% (99% in the US). (Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2016) – ‘Literacy’. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/literacy/ [Online Resource])

Is it then possible to theorize that one can educate oneself on how to prevent back pain from ever occurring in the first place?  Is our society  functionally illiterate regarding the spine, one of the most important parts of our bodies?

Back Basics

25 years ago FIT was established to prevent back and shoulder injuries (and since then, office ergonomic injuries too).  Our first discovery was that most back injuries are caused by what we call CMT (cumulative micro trauma).  CMT is an accumulation of tiny physical transgressions on our bodies that over time add up to fatigue, discomfort, pain and if continued, injury.

Secondly, we discovered shockingly, that as a culture we are virtually 100% illiterate as to the structure and practical function of our spines.  This lack of understanding leads to a life of accumulating unnecessary CMT!

80% of the US population will experience back pain.  A back injury can, in a brief moment, change one’s life or cause one to be on potentially addictive pain medication.  Yet despite this horrific “natural human condition” no one has educated us (properly!) on how to perform normal activities of daily living in a way that would prevent CMT and its painful manifestations.

38678647-quiz-wallpapersProof

How many cylinders do you have in your car?  4, 6 or 8?  70% of you or so will know that answer.  How many bones (vertebrae) make up your spine?  I will wait while you google this, because, like me years ago, I had NO IDEA!  Why are there curves in your spine?  How many curves?  We know more about our darn cars and trucks than we do our backs and we can replace our vehicles!  Don’t feel bad, virtually 100% of us are functionally illiterate relating to our back and how to use it properly.

The spine is an engineering feat!  You have to really work hard to “earn” a back injury.  You have 24 bones:  7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (hump in your mid back); and 5 lumbar (base of spine)…and 3 curves.

After “practically educating” over one million employees about the very simple laws of lifting and living in a world with a 24/7 gravitational force, we can 100% pronounce that when people become educated why and on how to lift, bend, work, care for their children, mow the lawn, shovel snow, do laundry, work on a computer, in other words “live life”, injuries plummet.

We trained 20,000 flight attendants for an airline on how to do their work and life duties and how to properly stretch away CMT, and back and neck injuries dropped 63%!

SAMPLE TIP

171092762-300x200Our Backsafe® on-site workshops experientially educate workers on how to NOT become a victim of back and shoulder pain.  One of our Backsafe laws to prevent CMT is never reach for or with a load.  Holding a box, baby, or bundle close to you significantly reduces “intradiscal” pressure on your spine.  A 10 pound object held 10” away from you becomes a virtual weight of 100 pounds on your spine.

Do this exercise:  Stand up.  Hold your arms out in front of you for a few seconds or until you feel a little fatigue.  This is 12% of your body weight.  Now relax your arms to a normal position and feel the relief.  The relief you feel is your body thanking you for keeping your arms close to your body.

Now make believe you have a box or laundry basket in your hands and you want to set it down on a desk or table.  Move close to the table whereby you can set the “load” down without reaching.  How pathetically simple!  Yet, extremely beneficial to know and apply to your life.

FIT wants to increase employees’ physical literacy as pertains to musculoskeletal well-being.  The beautiful part about our process is no matter an organization’s morale, employees are eager to know how to relieve pain and discomfort and willingly buy-in to change their behaviors on and off the job.

Email or call us at (800) 775.2225 and schedule an interview to learn how we can help your employees and help your company to prevent painful injuries and to save money in 2017.

Sincerely,

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc. 

 

The Mouse is a BIG deal! Who knew?

June 23, 2017

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive…Part Three

In our last 2 editions of “Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive” we began our discussion on how to prevent insidious pains and discomforts caused by sitting and working on computers.   These physical inconveniences along with fatigue and headaches are the result of “cumulative micro trauma” (CMT).  It fits the definition of insidious perfectly as CMT is apparently hidden to most people until the “micro trauma” accumulates enough to cause the above mentioned physical manifestations.

happy-at-work-saidaonlineThe GOOD news is just because you sit while working and use a computer and a phone (Oh my goodness!!) doesn’t mean you have to feel bad!  There is a technique for everything in life and FIT’s Laws of Sitting help people to prevent and eliminate CMT.

In our last publication I mentioned neck and shoulder discomfort and how a monitor’s position can predispose one to these conditions.  Well guess what else is causing countless people across globe neck, shoulder, headaches and wrist issues?  It only weighs a few ounces but causes tons of pain to many people.  The MOUSE’s position dictates where 6% of your body’s weight is positioned.  Yes your arm and shoulder weigh approximately 6% of your body weight.

Crispy-Computer-mouse-top-down-viewCheck this out.  Bend your elbow to a 90 degree angle with it next to your body.  Now push your elbow (arm) away from your body about 4 inches, the approximate position people are in when working with their mouse.  Hold your arm in that position for 30 seconds or so, or until you feel discomfort.  Please notice where the discomfort is registering on your body.  Now put your arm back close and next to your body again.  Do you feel sudden relief?

You will significantly reduce neck and shoulder discomfort (and even some headaches) by keeping your elbow close to your body when “mousing”.   The basics of office ergonomics are VERY SIMPLE.  All of us can better control how we feel on and off the job by learning the how to sit and use our electronics properly.  Call us to discuss our on-site employee and budget friendly Sittingsafe® program for office personnel and executives or our Backsafe® program for non-office personnel (800.775.2225).

Our next edition will address back pains and injuries and how they can be prevented on and off the job.  Until then reread this series of 3 newsletters on how to prevent office related CMT and make yourself feel better to more enjoy the life you work so hard for!

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive…Part Deux

June 10, 2017

Young-Man-with-Back-PainOur last edition defined CMT (Cumulative Micro Trauma) the cause of most physical discomfort attendant to sitting and working on a computer.  You may feel CMT on your body as fatigue, discomfort, or pain.  The pandemic existence of CMT among office workers around the world affects moods, joint function, production and well-being.

Employers, not aware of CMT as the source of employee “ergonomic” complaints, are compelled to purchase new ergonomic furniture, equipment and gadgets that in many cases, don’t completely solve the employee’s condition.

The basic fundamental of problem solving is to determine the exact cause, as eliminating the exact cause of any problem eliminates the problem.

smartphone_computer_desk-587ff5f73df78c2ccd054726A prevalent issue with most office workers or executives in today’s high tech world is CMT, as a result of computer and cell phone related repetitive activities.  The solution is to prevent CMT.  Most offices are already equipped with furniture that can be adjusted adequately to position 95% of human beings properly.  Yet close to 100% (actual fact) of the people that work in offices sit and work at their computer incorrectly!!

FIT’s Sittingsafe® program teaches the “Laws of Sitting” which are almost completely unknown by our society.  Not knowing these very simple laws predisposes us to CMT and the gamut of physical symptoms.

Our first edition described maintaining “open angles”.  I trust that has been helpful.  Today I want to mention “neutral head posture”.  Your monitor’s position—height and distance from your eyes—dictates the position of your head.  If you are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, this will help (as will the next edition…stay tuned!). Your head weighs 10-12 pounds when you maintain a neutral posture; that is, when your head is in its natural position while looking straight ahead in a relaxed state.

bad-posture-urgent-careHowever, your 12 pound head can have the effect of weighing over 30 pounds (!) when you slouch and “turtle” your head out towards your monitor while looking at your screen.  This is called “forward head posture” and is very insidious. Many people as a result of this chronic posture, have their heads and neck fixed in this position permanently causing continual stress on their neck and shoulders.

Not only does “forward head posture” cause neck and shoulder discomfort but it also reduces your oxygen intake.

Check this out:

Sit up straight with your head in neutral posture and while noticing your air intake, take 2 nice deep breaths.

Now jut your chin out as if looking at your monitor incorrectly  (forward head posture) and try taking 2 deep breaths—you can’t do it, right?!

“Forward head posture” contributes to neck and shoulder pain and discomfort, headaches, and your ability to breath normally.

SOLUTION to prevent “forward head posture”:  Move your monitor closer to you or increase the font size to prevent the urge to be closer to your monitor.

FIT offers on-site group Sittingsafe workshops anywhere in the country.  We teach people how to set up their existing workstations and a very powerful stretching routine specific for office workers.

We also conduct one-on-one ergonomic evaluations.

Visit our website at www.backsafe.com for more information on Sittingsafe and our industrial lifting program Backsafe®.

Until next time, remember Open Angles and Neutral Head Posture!  You’ll feel better, I promise!

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive

May 22, 2017

OFFICE-WORKER-SLOUCHINGWe have all heard about the studies on sitting and how it can negatively impact our health.  It has been proven that sitting for extended periods of time is not good for us.

Office personnel, especially executives, spend a lot of time sitting and looking at a computer.  This sustained posture can cause neck and shoulder discomfort, headaches, low back pain, a sort of malaise, and shall I say it??? a feeling of “I’m getting old”!

Executives, many times, are too busy to even acknowledge the onset of chronic discomfort until lifestyles are affected.

25 years ago we discovered that the “laws of sitting” are not being taught.  This lack of education was exposed when our society became dependent on computers, allowing access to the world while seated in an office or home.

The exposure of this lack of knowledge manifested via fatigue, discomfort, pain and for some, even injury.  ATTEMPTED solutions have included ergonomic chairs, keyboards, sit-stand desks, treadmills with keyboards, etc.  Ergonomic solutions are certainly important, but my gosh, they can become quite expensive.  Moreover, how frustrating it is to the person with wrist, back or neck pain when the $800 chair doesn’t quite eliminate the problem.

Knowledge is power as the saying goes.  There are simple laws of how to sit.  Violation of these laws cause accelerated “micro trauma”. The accumulation of insidious micro trauma is called Cumulative Micro Trauma (CMT) which is the cause of the symptoms mentioned above.

If you assess your body right now, we know that in one or several areas you will feel your own CMT.  The good news is once we know the true source of a problem, the problem can be solved.

The laws of sitting, once known, puts people in charge of how they feel.  What we can do is learn how to sit properly, learn how to set up our chairs, monitors, keyboards, and yes, get rid of CMT by doing certain stretches designed specifically for executives and office support personnel.

I will share some of the laws that we teach in our Sittingsafe® workshops across North America over the next few newsletters.

Here is our first Sittingsafe tip:

blood-vessels-sem-1ykwp1oYour body has 62,500 miles of blood vessels (amazing fact!).  Blood provides oxygen, nutrition and takes away waste.  A law of sitting is to prevent closed angles.  Your ankles, knees, hips and elbows should be positioned at 90 degrees or slightly more to assist blood flow.  Key factors to open angles are the height of your chair and position of your keyboard, mouse and monitor.  Do not let your computer and office furniture dictate your body’s positions.  Adjust your chair so that your knees are slightly below your hips, for most of the day make sure your feet aren’t tucked under your chair (closes ankle and knee angles!)

When typing, your hands should be on the keyboard at the same height or slightly below your elbow (keyboard trays are needed by most people) and the same is true for the mouse.

We will continue these tips in our next newsletter.

Please keep in mind that it is quite simple to alleviate most discomfort caused by sitting.  You just need to know the laws of sitting contained in our Sittingsafe program!

FIT has trainers available across the US and Canada to conduct on-site Sittingsafe workshops for office and executive personnel.  We don’t sell furniture or ergonomic equipment.  We teach people what society forgot to teach us.  Knowledge is power!  Especially if it makes us feel good!

Contact us for more information on our Sittingsafe program (800.775.2225)

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

I’m So Tired of Standing!

December 21, 2016

line12During this busy season, it’s impossible to avoid standing still for long periods of time…

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Consider waiting in line at the post office…

Standing in the kitchen creating confectionary delights…

Wrapping gifts for hours on end…

Standing ovations at your children/grandchildren/student/neighbor concerts…

Placing decorations thoughtfully…

I’m certain you could add to this list from your own traditions as well.

Despite the joy and happiness the season brings, standing still for long periods of time is a form of Repetitive Stress and can contribute to low back pain and fatigue.

Hamstrings can tighten, which can also lead to back pain.

Here are some useful tips to keep you feeling great this holiday season:

  • It is no accident that bars install standing foot rails to keep their patrons comfortable.  Raising one foot can relieve stress and prevent fatigue.  Open a cabinet door and use the cupboard as a footrest while doing dishes or even brushing your teeth.hamstring-stretch-revised-11-20-13
  • Shift your feet from a normal width when standing to a wider stance from time to time, particularly if you are working on a lower surface.
  • Alternate staggering your feet.
  • Do a back extension stretch and a hamstring stretch from time to time, especially when standing on tile or other hard surfaces.

These are a small part of our Backsafe® Injury Prevention program  which many companies find so very helpful for preventing sprain/strain injuries for their employees.

Here’s to a healthy, peaceful and happy holiday season to you and those you love.