Archive for the ‘Ergonomics’ category

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.

Tech Neck…Yes, It’s a Thing

October 2, 2016

police-release-shocking-video-to-reduce-mobile-phone-distraction-deathsWe’ve all seen them, pedestrians stooped forward over the ubiquitous mobile device…seemingly oblivious to traffic, other pedestrians and potholes.  Heck, we might have even been one of “those people” ourselves!  Tech Neck sufferers are everywhere!

Our obsessive attachment to these devices comes with a myriad of issues of course, but let’s discuss the physical/anatomical costs of this love affair.

Consider neutral posture—head up, shoulders squared, arms at ease—would fully support your 10-12 pound head.  Lean forward, shoulders hunched, clutching a phone and now you’re looking at much more relative weight being supported by your spine…up to 60 pounds in fact!

prescription-computer-glassesAdd in the fact that many of us wear corrective glasses that cause us to further distort our neck to find the right spot to actually be able to read that tiny print…and you can imagine, it’s a constant burden our spines were just not designed to manage.

So now that we’ve established what we all see and experience daily, the bigger discussion should be:  what can be done about it?

As a leader in the Injury Prevention business for 20+ years, FIT has a couple of great, practical suggestions.

  1. From time to time raise your cell phone so you are reading with your head in a more level position.  Use those biceps you’ve been working on at the gym to lift that tiny device closer to your face, rather than subjecting your poor overused spine to dangle that heavy head!
  2. Try out some neck stretches to reverse the accumulated micro trauma—because that prolonged posture really is causing trauma to your shoulders and neck.  FIT’s Backsafe® and Sittingsafe® stretches are easy to do and have proven very effective.  You can check them out on the website:  www.backsafe.com  The Cross Shoulder Pull, Shoulder Rolls, and the Chin Tuck are especially therapeutic. If you really like them, you can even order your own laminated card by calling FIT at 800.775.2225.

It seems evident that technology isn’t going away, so let’s make sure that we do our best to stay healthy and fit in our plugged in world.  Tech Neck doesn’t have to be a thing after all!

Microbreaks are Good for Mind & Body

April 14, 2016

Chances are you’re seated right now, hunched over a keyboard. hunched-over-keyboardIf you’ve spent most or all of your workday in this position, you are a candidate for fatigue and soreness starting at the neck and working down the back. Those are the postural muscles, and you should listen to them.

Postural muscles are responsible for maintaining an upright posture. These muscles tend to become tight rather easily, which can lead to pain. You can probably feel the postural muscles working as you read this. They are doing the heavy lifting of the head, the neck and the spine.

What those muscles need are frequent breaks. Not 15-minute ones, but a 1-2 minute microbreak to protect the body against the dangers of hours of constant sitting. Microbreaking done correctly can reduce strain on the neck, shoulders and spine. Correctly means taking microbreaks throughout the day, along with mandated 15-minute rest periods and a meal break.

Chair-bound employees don’t need to leave their desks to take one. A microbreak lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and is meant to be taken as often as every 10 minutes. Microbreaks can reduce muscle fatigue by up to 50 percent in an eight-hour day, experts think.

Because of technology and automation, employees tend to overdo a single task. That can be typing on a keyboard, answering the phone, opening and sorting mail, or handling packages. neck-shoulderrestThey get on a roll, some call it “in the zone,” and their concentration is extremely high. A microbreak serves as a reminder not to stay seated or standing in one position for too long.

Try this now: Let your arms hang by your sides and gently shake your hands. Hold this position for 25-30 seconds. Breathing deeply and exhaling three or four times while your arms hang is a good relaxation technique to pair with this microbreak exercise. Our Sittingsafe® chart offers 13 exercises and recommendations for lowering fatigue and stress and feeling more energetic.

Stanford University researchers in the Environmental Health and Safety Department, who’ve studied the effects of prolonged sitting, have a message for those who spend their days chair-bound. The human body is always active when engaged in work tasks, even when seated. Frequent breaks can decrease the duration of a task and help lower the exposure to ergonomic injury risk, they advise.

Stanford’s ergonomic-wellness work led to a recommendation that employees make microbreaks a part of their workday. The Stanford team offered some ways how:
• Move the printer to another room, if possible, or away from the desk. This requires you to stand and walk over to the printer to get a printout.
• Stand when talking on the phone. A stand-up desk comes in handy for this task.
• Walk to the restroom or get a glass of water every hour. lxpu-1432506798-133948-full• Break up continuous computer time by checking phone messages and reading reports.
Microbreaks are preventative, not a cure for existing back and neck injuries. Paul Hooper, DC, writing in “Dynamic Chiropratic” noted that many conditions have multiple causes and multiple solutions. “It would appear that the use of microbreaks is one such part of the puzzle,” he said.

Other research on energy management at work shows that listening to music on a micro-break boosts energy levels and wards off fatigue, too. Stretching at the desk, walking to the water fountain, or listening to a music jam (on low volume, of course!), they all make a difference in how employees feel at their jobs and about their workplaces.

Make time in the day for microbreaks, and your body and mind will do the rest.

The Sittingsafe® card offers a variety of exercises and stretches that can be done right at the desk. The illustrated card explains 13 exercises to curb muscle and eye strain. The card is available from Backsafe for $1.25. Order by calling 1-800-775-2225 or online at www.backsafe.com.