08 September 2010

A healthy back at your desk

National Back Week is from 6 to 12 September and offers the opportunity to take a closer look at preventing the back ailments affecting so many people.

National Back Week is from 6 to 12 September and offers the opportunity to take a closer look at preventing the back ailments that affect so many people.

"Our bodies are better designed to be on the move, than spend long periods of time in the same position. Movement is therefore a decisive factor in the fight against the typical complaints of seated employees," says Debbie Arnoldi-Radford, MD of the Dauphin HumanDesign Group (South Africa).

Research has shown that a seat tilt of up to -12° is ideal. If the seat can tilt in this manner, the position of the pelvis when sitting comes close to its position when standing and this helps to minimise strain on the user's spinal column.

"Sitting in a balanced physical posture on an ergonomic office chair with a seat-tilt facility may seem strange to many people at first but in most instances people do not make the most of the features modern office chairs offer," says Arnoldi-Radford. "In our experience employees think that simply by adjusting their chairs they will be able to compensate for their incorrect posture and they do so continually, often without relief. For example, specific functions may be locked or the chair incorrectly adjusted. If this is the case, even the freedom allowed for micro movements will not help."

"By providing workers with an understanding of the importance of ergonomics in the workplace and of correct seating and posture, they are empowered to optimise their own workstations," says Andrew Todd, Lecturer at Rhodes University Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics and chairman of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA). "Not only will they be able to ensure the appropriate match between the chair/desk and their own physical characteristics (stature, leg length), but also to incorporate appropriate rest breaks.


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