Ergonomic Risk Factor 4: STATIC POSTURES

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Here is the next instalment in our ergonomic blog series. If you would like to check out the rest of the Ergonomic Risks click here. Today we will be discussing the fourth biomechanical risk factor: STATIC POSTURES

Static postures are very similar to the risk of repetition. The office worker demonstrates many hours of static postures while they input data etc. While the fingers and hands are performing repetitive tasks, the proximal body is held in a constant state to support and enable the hand function. Due to the move towards a sedentary lifestyle and work environments, static postures have become a major contributor to work related injuries.

Static postures put undue stress on the muscular system and can result in muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is a result of the decrease in the energy stores in the muscle and protective influences from the central nervous system. While holding a static posture the blood flow to the muscle is dramatically reduced and it is this doctor that makes static work more fatiguing than dynamic work.

Muscle fatigue symptoms include:
• Discomfort or pain in the muscle
• Difficulty completing smooth movement patterns
• Compensatory techniques begin to appear

With adequate rest the muscle fatigue is able to fully recover. If we continue to stress a fatigued muscle or not allow adequate recovery time the muscle will reach a point of no return and muscle failure will occur.

It can be difficult to manage the fatigue caused by static postures as the brain is occupied with the task at hand. Some strategies to reduce your risk include:
• Break up work tasks that involve static postures
• Complete stretching program each hour at your workstation – this timing is important as research suggests that damage can occur due to the reduced blood flow in muscles from as little as one hour of static muscle contraction
• Take scheduled breaks and while on break change your postures ie. Don’t just move from sitting at your desk to sitting in the break room; take a walk around, stretch and perhaps remain standing for your break

We are now over half way through our Ergonomic Biomechanical Risk Factor series. I hope that the overviews are helpful. The next topic will be Dynamic Factors.

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