A physiotherapist’s perspective. Problems caused by poor workstation set-up

Here at Ergonix, we have extensive knowledge in the field of workplace ergonomics and recognise the importance of a correctly set up workstation.

As part of our practice, we see a range of problems in patients caused by bad workplace ergonomics and there has been a rapid incline in musculoskeletal issues since working from home was announced. In fact, in September 2020, a survey found that 81 per cent of employees working from home had musculoskeletal pain. Surveys by the IES (Institute for Employment Studies) and Versus Arthritis revealed that 55 per cent and 50 per cent of their respondents had lower back pain, respectively.

Issues are being seen regularly, are typically caused by poor posture and slouching, include:

  • Tight muscles and joints from incorrect sitting positions or from remaining inactive for long periods of time.
  • Pain in body parts such as neck and shoulder, wrists, arms and the lower back.
  • Eye-strain and headaches.
  • Problems with digestion, breathing and blood circulation from inactivity.
  • Increased tiredness and stress as a result of pain and discomfort.

However, these problems can be avoided, or at least minimised, by ensuring both that your workstation is set up correctly and by remaining as active as possible during your working day. Some of the top tips our chartered physiotherapists recommend include:

  • Having your screen, keyboard and mouse in the correct positions and by making sure your chair is providing you with sufficient support to ensure the correct posture and position of your whole body. Take a look at our blog about the correct workstation set-up for more detailed information.
  • Avoid sofa-slouching! It is natural when sitting on a sofa to slouch, and this will increase the risk of experiencing problems. If you don’t have a desk or a table to work from and you must use your sofa, place pillows behind your back and underneath your laptop to improve your posture.
  • Take frequent short breaks whilst working. Walking around and stretching your muscles will help to reduce the risk of lower back pain by decreasing pressure on the spine, which is almost double when in a slouched position.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated or having an unhealthy diet can often make you feel tired and sluggish.

Another important way to minimise the risk of these problems occurring is by having a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment carried out, which can be done whether you are office or home-based.

The purpose of the DSE assessment is to look at the relationship between an individual’s posture, their work environment and the tasks they carry out. The assessment is designed to identify risks that could contribute to musculoskeletal problems or other pain and discomfort, therefore improving overall well-being and productivity. Sometimes, small changes can make a huge difference.

If you would like more information on our DSE workstation assessments, or more information about how we can help you, visit our Contact Us page to get in touch.

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