Ergonomic Tips for a Healthy Body

Caitlin ParsonsFounder of The Aligned Hygienst

According to Merriam Webster, ergonomics is defined as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” I describe ergonomics as setting up the workspace so the practitioner, as well as the equipment and surroundings, are positioned in a way that supports and allows the body to function efficiently and effectively to reduce injuries or work-related pain.

Sitting isn’t easy for the body: our bodies weren’t designed to sit for extended periods of time. Because of the design of our bodies, an increase of sitting/screen time, and the lack of education around a resolution, levels of work-related pain and injuries are extremely high. When your body and your workstation are set up effectively, your body can function optimally. However, when it’s not set up properly, our body has to work a lot harder than it should be. 

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, since 1990, back pain has been the leading cause of disability.

In this article, I share three simple tips for better ergonomics–none of which ACTUALLY have anything to do with your work setup. Don’t worry, that’s coming soon!

Ergonomics Tips #1: AWARENESS!

It sounds extremely simple, I know. But that’s because it is. To improve your posture and ergonomics, you must increase your ability to be aware of your body in space. When there is awareness, there can be change. When there is change, we can create anew. This is one reason I highly recommend yoga to many people. One of the most important principles yoga teaches us is the ability to become aware of your own body–when you sit, move, lay, and breathe. Increasing your self-awareness will help you greatly in understanding your body and the signals it is sending you all day every day, and with this, you build the ability to understand what your body needs and how to nourish it or find the support you need.

Start by setting an alarm on your phone or making post-its in your workspace. The idea here is that the more you notice the reminder, the more aware of your posture you become. Let’s be real–it’s so easy to get caught up in what we’re doing, especially if we have a lot going on. Make it easier on yourself! Set an alarm on your phone or put a calendar event at the top or bottom of every hour.

When the reminder goes up, simply notice:

What’s your head doing?

Your shoulders and upper back?

Arms and hands?

The simple truth is that the more you become aware, the more you can create muscle memory. Our body is designed to go where we tell it to go. Start changing communication with your body to support yourself long-term.

( Image Slider )

Ergonomics Tips #2: Counterpose

In yoga, a counterpose is a pose or movement that is the opposite of the one you just explored. This is important throughout a yoga class because our body often needs to come back to neutral and stabilize before going into the next one. Like a yoga class, I want you to start adding counterposes into your day.

Sitting for long periods of time tightens the front of the chest and the hip area, in addition to a host of other concerns. Because of this, it’s important to stretch and open that area up to alleviate tension building and creating an imbalance in the body that may lead to aches, pain or an injury. 

Standing up and stretching throughout your day, even for 30 seconds, is a great way to bring your body back into balance. You can try this at work with habit stacking. Habit stacking is when you add another habit/task to the one you’re already doing, to save time, money or the energy in remembering. Habit stack by adding in a counterpose stretching with your awareness exercise and WA-LA… your body will thank you!

( Instagram )

Ergonomic Tips #3: MOVEMENT!

The movement you do outside of work matters. While ergonomics is largely about setting up you with your office space, it’s important to remember that WHAT and HOW we move our body will affect our ergonomics, too.

Take a moment to think about the exercise you do and ask yourself:

Are you moving your body in all directions?

Do you add in a good amount of time for stretching?

Is the movement similar to the way you sit or does it do the opposite?

The type of movement you do matters. I love helping people find what works for them. In my opinion, stretching and strengthening, in any way, shape, or form, needs to be a part of your routine. That way, on a regular basis, you are countering all the negative effects from sitting. 

I recommend yoga therapy–the perfect balance to add strength + stretching into your life. You don’t need a ton of time either, once you learn some poses, you can sprinkle them into your daily life. If you’re looking for inspiration or a safe space to practice yoga, check out Aligned Online. Aligned Online is a monthly yoga therapy membership program that is DESIGNED to help sitting professionals and those with chronic pain and injuries. My mission for aligned is to help you feel your best so you can get back to enjoying your life.

( Image & Form )

Yoga & Ergonomics for Busy Dental Hygienists Ready to Thrive In & Out of the Op