Ergonomics. Not Just a Buzz Word

Let’s face it we spend the majority our day using electronics. Whether we are Instagramming on our iPhones or working away on our corporate PCs, the constant use has started to ring some serious alarm bells. The word “ergonomics” is constantly being thrown around in the workplace but who takes this seriously? Everyone should. Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the worker, or making adjustments to the work space to better suit the individual needs. These can vary from desk height, keyboard shape, positioning of the chair and many others; there are two major concerns that I have recently encountered myself, eye health and physical mobility.

Like most young people I had not visited the eye doctor since I was younger. This could be because I thought my vision was fine or maybe I was just avoiding the high costs of optometry. Needless to say it had been at least ten years since I had a proper check up. I was shocked to find out that my eyes actually had UV damage, this was most likely from the years of indoor tanning I did in my youth. However, there was another issue that came up while talking with the optometrist. I had been getting frequent headaches and thought maybe it was because I had poor vision. The doctor told me it was actually more likely that I was experiencing eye strain from looking at electronics all day long. He educated me and told me that eye disease is becoming more prevalent in young people and one of the theories could be the use of technology and the impacts it has that we are still not aware of. He recommended I purchase eyeglasses with blue lenses, the blue lenses are known to filter out the harmful blue light emitted from electronics. Of course I picked a fabulous pair of Tom Ford’s but if you aren’t in the market for new specs my other recommendation is to use a privacy screen on your computer at work. It shields the bright light from your monitor making it much easier to stare at for long periods of time.

My next concern came up when I started noticing numbness in my right wrist. At first I tried to ignore it but it became all too apparent. I purchased a drug store wrist guard but neglected to wear it. So I decided to purchase an ergonomic mouse for my computer at work and I have definitely noticed a big difference. Often times the workplace will pay such items as it reduces risk of further issues. I would also recommend getting an ergonomic assessment if that is offered by your workplace, I learned so much about the different settings on my chair it was shocking. But, what is my number one recommendation when it comes to improving mobility? Get up and move! More importantly stretch. I love yoga; the benefits are endless, it improves strength, flexibility and self-awareness. Sitting for long periods of time causes the muscles in your hips to shorten and can lead to pain or injury; using a mouse improperly can lead to repetitive strain injury; if your chair and desk are not aligned to fit your body this can cause damage in the neck, shoulders or back. Find a local yoga studio you love and give it a try! Often times studios offer trial months so you can get a feel for it without a commitment. I love Pure Yoga Toronto, the classes offer the perfect balance between Shakti (power) and Svadhyaya (self-study). Great for when you want a physical challenge as well as an opportunity to decompress your day.

I used to have this idea that things like glaucoma or carpal tunnel could never happen to me but with more education I realized that these things are very real and young people are even more at risk due to our constant use of electronics. Make sure you are taking the right steps to improve you overall health and prevent future risk of serious injuries.

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