Injury Prevention Solutions

Power of Postural Variability

The key to better worker health and well-being is encouraging routine movement around the office. Simple actions, such as rearranging the printer relative to the workstation so the worker has to stand up to get the printout, utilizing a reminder to take routine breaks and get out of one’s seat, and going over to talk to a person instead of talking on the phone, will encourage movement while still allowing workers to use their time productively. At the end of the day, having a culture that encourages breaks will be more successful in reducing symptoms of musculoskeletal discomfort for workers. Then, everyone can return home pain-free.

A concise general overview of the state of research on these options to the conventional office workstation. I do have some qualms with their claims of  standing as “exerting large muscle groups in the legs and trunk that pump blood throughout the musculoskeletal system”, as prolonged standing has led to venous insufficiency (varicose veins)- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434442/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036289/, and an understandable physiological scenario- http://www.cvphysiology.com/Cardiac%20Function/CF017. So limiting time in standing is crucial to preventing venous stasis, along with other medical problems too numerous to mention here.

Also, I  disagree with their claim for “the actual energy expenditure change is minimal” from sit to stand, citing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22971879, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26467968/.

Their keys to proper use of the sit-to-stand workstation need more specificity to be effective for the readers, but the best results are achieved by an ergonomic professional or Physical Therapist evaluating the workstation.

As for treadmills, the authors state the main concern is falls, but I go further as some employees may have leg/ foot joint(s) arthritis, diabetes, and or heart problems. Employees need to have their PCP give clearance and what guidelines does the employer give to the PCP regarding measures of fitness for using the treadmill? This also goes for the cycle desk.

Curiously, they don’t have a concern about falls with the exercise ball. I have to stay beside my patients who sit on the ball for that very reason. I  have seen in my experience as a Physical Therapist that many people with back pain have to be careful on the ball as it has a very potent effect on the low back muscles. With about 80% of Americans experiencing low back pain in their lifetime, the ball is not a good option due to its ability to place a higher demand on the low back muscles than sitting in a chair. Ball exercises are not usually the first choice for those with weak back muscles, which can be safely assumed with the sedentary office workforce.

With all being said in their review, they came to the conclusion that the Physical Therapy field did many years ago;  take a break from sitting every 30 minutes, as postural variability is key to any job. When it comes to better health for all, don’t take it sitting down.



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