If physical labor is part of your job description, making smart ergonomic choices about tool usage, lifting weights and other chores can prevent unnecessary pain, says journalist Erica Quinlan, who interviewed Shawn Ehlers, a research assistant at Purdue University.
“No matter what we do physically, we all have ergonomic issues,” Ehlers said. “Ergonomics is a big word that can apply to many things. It is basically anything that provides more comfort or reduced strain.”
Ehlers offered these 5 tips to work smarter:
1. Choose tools that fit you and your task.
2. Avoid excessive bending or twisting of back, wrist, arm, fingers.
3. Reduce duration of strain by using clamps, braces or add-on handles.
4. Consider taking brief breaks throughout the work session.
5. Use technologies that can reduce stress on the body.
There are a lot of individual factors that can determine how someone can get hurt and why, Ehlers said.
Factors include age, gender, strength, body size and shape, history of injuries and personality.
No matter what factors you face, you can use what Ehlers calls “mechanical advantage” to work smarter, not harder.
“The way our bodies are built, certain postures and ways of holding things benefit us more than others,” he said.
“Holding things closer to your body is always better than holding things away from us. Elbows are always strongest at a 90-degree angle.”
Picking ergonomically appropriate tools can help prevent soreness and injury.
What makes a good ergonomic tool? Ones with the proper grip, handle size and shape for your body are ideal. Any tool that reduces bending, twisting or vibration also is helpful.
“You need to design your own tasks,” Ehlers said. “You’re in charge of doing your work, your way.”
Source: Erica Quinlan