Ergonomics – follow the 90 degree rule

Ergonomics. It was top of mind when we were at the office, but now that we’re 15 months into this pandemic with many of us still working from home, it’s clear that it should be a priority there too. But it’s not just adults working from home that we need to think about, it’s kids too. The school year may be coming to an end, but it’s important to think about how all of our work/school spaces are impacting our bodies.

What we often don’t realize is that good posture and movement help prevent chronic pain, something that is usually not well vocalized in children. It will usually manifest as a decline in attention span, and behavioural outbursts.

Many kids at home are working on laptops or tablets – things that were not created for use for extended periods of time. While they may not complain of being in an awkward position for long stretches of time, it can have an impact on their neurological development. Since children are still growing, there is an increase in strains put on their developing bodies, and over time we’re setting them up with bad habits with long-term side-effects.

When in doubt, following the 90 degree rule is the goal. While seated, it is important that the ankles, knees, and hips are bent at 90 degrees. The same holds true for elbows when typing. You also don’t want to be looking down for extended periods of time, which is where laptops are problematic. It’s important that the middle of the screen be in line with your line of sight, so that the chin is parallel to the floor, bringing the neck into a more neutral position. An easy way to do that (without breaking the bank) is to prop up the laptop on a box or stack of books, and connect an external keyboard if typing is necessary.

While proper ergonomics while sitting and standing are important, it’s crucial we don’t forget the following point – ‘movement is life’. It’s important that we don’t stay in the same position for too long; take stretching breaks, go for multiple quick walks throughout the day, get outside and play.

As a chiropractor, it’s important for me to note that the spine does so much more than support the weight of your body. It is the armour that protects a large portion of your nervous system – the spinal cord – and if any of your vertebrae (bones of the spine) become misaligned, it can cause portions of your spine to not move freely. This can in turn lead to discomfort, swelling, and inflammation, which can have an impact on other systems of the body.

Curious to know what a chiropractor thinks of your workplace? For the month of June, I am doing a ‘Workplace Audit’. Simply email me your pictures of your workplace (or your kid’s school space) at  stittsville@oaktreehealth.ca with the subject line ‘Workplace Audit’ and I’ll let you know if I see any changes I would recommend for you!

Dr. Marie-Pier Sauriol has a Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Alberta, attended the renown New York Chiropractic College where she received her Doctor of Chiropractic and is a member of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario. A resident of Stittsville for three years, Dr. Sauriol is the part owner of Oaktree Health  (www.oaktreehealth.ca) on Carp Road in Stittsville.


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