Office Health: Use It or Loosen It

Office Health: Use It or Loosen It

Here the experts provide some simple ways you can protect yourself from the health impact of the sedentary office life.

The following tips have been provided by Dr Joseph Ierano, secretary and public education officer of the the Chiropractors Association of Australia (NSW) and Ann Thompson, president of the RSI and Overuse Injury Association.

Get out of your chair regularly. Stand when talking to colleagues, or talking on the phone [provided this does not amplify your voice and disturb colleagues. Take short walks as often as practical.

Learn some basic stretches and practice these whenever some part of you feels tired or tight. And keep warm in the office even if this means keeping an old cardie at work.

Here are some simple stretches you can perform at your desk:

Head and neck exercises

  • Tuck chin in and look slowly to the left until chin is over your left shoulder. Do the same to the right and repeat five times.
  • Lower head so chin is close to the chest then slowly stretch neck back until you see the ceiling. Repeat five times.
  • Tuck chin in, relax neck, then lower head to the left until left ear is close to the left shoulder. Do the same to the right and repeat five times.

Look up and focus on something farther away, and then open eyes wide, raising eyebrows, then relax.

Draw shoulder blades together, relax. Perform shoulder rolls both ways.

Stretch your wrists bend them slowly in each direction and then rest arms by your side and gently shake your fingers.

Sit forward in your chair, turn in one direction and stretch your back by pulling on the back of the chair.

Journalist Chantal Rumble reports that from 1999 to 2000, NSW Workcover alone copped a bill of more than $7 million from 317 compensation claims for computer-related injuries, and the rate of injury is on the rise.

"The human body was not meant to stay in one constrained position for prolonged periods of time," says Dr Joseph Ierano of the Chiropractors Association of Australia (NSW). "It requires regular motion and activity to maintain normal circulation and to keep muscles relaxed.

"With the vast impact of computers on every field of human endeavour, we now find chiropractors are seeing more and more human ills attributable to computer use -- and the seated position."

Computers are not only to blame for the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain, but can also cause headaches, stomach aches, chest and rib pain, shallow breathing and shoulder pain, Ierano says.

The main causes of injury continue to be occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) and repetitive strain injuries, which have reportedly reaching epidemic proportions.

Of the 317 claims received by NSW Workcover, 184 were reports of sprains and strains of joints and adjacent muscles, and there were 101 reports of disorders of muscle, tendons and other soft tissues.

Other claimants suffered disorders of nerves, hernias and disorders of the joints. One person became deaf.
To ensure you don't become a statistic, perform the exercises above.

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