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Posture and Work-related Injuries

Let’s Talk Posture and Ergonomics!

We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Brent Cordery, physical therapist at Omaha Physical Therapy Institute (OPTI), about ergonomic assessments and the work-related rehabilitation OPTI provides!  Check out what Brent has to say below!

How can Omaha Physical Therapy Institute assist those injured while at work?  How can you help employers with injury prevention and wellness?

At Omaha Physical Therapy Institute (OPTI) we provide injured workers with a comprehensive evaluation and treatment for all work related musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injuries. Patients are guaranteed one-on-one care with the same physical therapist every single visit.  OPTI’s physical therapists are all specialists in the orthopedic and sports medicine realm and have extensive experience working with work-related injuries. We measure our success through patient outcomes and their satisfaction with treatment.  The treatment plan for an injured worker is individualized, addressing both personal goals as well as their work-related goals.  Our mission is to make sure the patient is able to return to their work duties as quickly and as comfortably as possible.  There will be good communication between the treating physical therapist and the patient’s case worker and employer if needed in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the patient’s goals and progress. We perform a lot of education on the neurophysiology of pain and equip the patient with strategies for injury prevention and health maintenance once they are able to return to work.

In addition to comprehensive clinical assessment and treatment, we also perform on-site ergonomic assessments of employee work stations.  Furthermore, we provide employers with educational classes on ergonomics and injury prevention/wellness in the workplace. This education is so valuable in assisting employers with keeping their employees informed on how to stay healthy and pain free while at work, reducing the risk of work place injuries.

With more computer work required with the progression of technology, what advice do you have for those that have “desk jobs” regarding proper posture during the day?

There has been a recent shift in ergonomic advice for workers that sit at a desk working on a computer for the majority of their day. Traditionally, health care providers have preached and attempted to teach the ‘perfect’ posture. We have all heard of this. Imagine the Queen of England. Upright, straight spine, shoulders back, chin up, knees and hips at 90 degrees, etc.. Very rigid and tight. Can you imagine trying to sit like this for 8 hours a day? Turns out sitting like the Queen of England is not such sound advice.

Recent studies have shown that the best posture is one that is constantly changing. Or “your best posture is your next posture.”  To simplify, we need to relax and MOVE. Maintaining one position the majority of the day is bad. It creates ischemia (inadequate blood supply) to certain regions (lower back, etc.) and can lead to pain.  We need consistent postural variation throughout our day. Be fidgety. Slouch for a bit, lean forward for a bit, sit on one cheek then the other. Get up. Walk. The more we move, the more we keep our tissues happy and healthy. We encourage people to get up from their desks at least once every 20-30 minutes. Even if it is for a brief period of time.

What’s some general advice or information you’d like to share with those who have a desk job? 

There is no such thing as the perfect ergonomic chair, keyboard, mouse, etc..  Everyone is different and we all need to find positions at work in which we are comfortable and can relax while working. Don’t go out and spend two thousand dollars on the “best ergonomic” chair thinking you can sit in it for 8 hours a day and never develop any pain. If you do, you could be hurting not only your back but your pocket book as well!  It is simple. Find a chair that fits you well, shift around and change your posture consistently, and don’t sit for long periods of time. Motion is lotion. Movement is medicine.

If you have any questions about ergonomic assessments or education, please feel free to contact me or one of the physical therapists here at OPTI. We’d be happy to help!

Call today!  Your Comeback Story Starts Here!

Brent Cordery, PT

References:

Barrett E, O’Keeffe M, O’Sullivan K, Lewis J, McCreesh K. Is thoracic spine posture associated with shoulder pain, range of motion and function? A systematic review. Man Ther. 2016 Dec;26:38–46.

Grob D, Frauenfelder H, Mannion AF. The association between cervical spine curvature and neck pain. Eur Spine J. 2007;16(5):669–678.

Gay RE. The curve of the cervical spine: variations and significance. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1993;16(9):591–4.

Ettinger B, Black DM, Palermo L, et alKyphosis in older women and its relation to back pain, disability and osteopenia: the study of osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int. 1994 Jan;4(1):55–60.