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Kevin, Beconsfield

Ergonomic Myths of The Desk Setup


There are many views on this topic that go around in circles looking at the precision setup of where the computer is in relation to the depth of desk and position of the user. “This chair is better than that one” and “this vertical optical mouse is better than a flatter palm sized one”…… you get the idea.

The devil is in the detail and at Drummond we believe that we can change the negative effects of sitting, not by changing the desk ergonomics but really delving deep in to how the body is set up and ultimately changing the body’s ability to sit/stand for prolonged periods of corporate inactivity.

Many studies have been conducted on the health effects of prolonged periods of sitting, citing that those taking more frequent ‘movement breaks’ increase personal productivity, as well as the lower the risks associated with waist circumference, body mass index, triglycerides, and 2-hour plasma glucose. Yes, all of these facts are very important messages that we should pay attention to, but there are not many reports that discuss the two way damage that sitting does to the musculoskeletal (MSK) system and how the MSK system equally responds to sitting.

For us this topic is huge and so I will keep it brief.  Let’s take a look at just three main areas that we see presented in the clinic resulting from sitting and how addressing mobility & strength can not just increase our tolerance to sitting but indeed help us just to generally move with greater freedom.

Low Back, Pelvis & Hips

Designed to be strong, stable and take significant loads during movement, the sedentary effects of sitting create, weakness through muscle loss leading to instability and ultimately an inability to accept loads through this area.  This means that the less we can tolerate in all of these physiological actions, the less we do.  How many of you know someone who has/has had a lumbar disc prolapse, hip replacement, sacroiliac joint dysfunction or even just non specific low back pain?

Thoracic Spine, Neck & Shoulders 

How many of you sit or stand with sloppy posture?  Due to the amount that we sit, the curvature in the spine is significantly increased.  The resulting effect of this means that the head is thrown forward leading to increased muscle activity to try and stabilise the head in a position that it shouldn’t be. Consider the head on average weighs 5-5.5kg.  Ouch.  In addition to the head, the shoulders and scapula are also thrown forward, shortening muscles that should be longer and lengthening muscles that should be shorter.  Do this often enough and the body starts to register a NEW NORMAL. How many people do you know that has persistent neck pain, shoulder impingement, elbow pain or repetitive strain in the wrist/hands?

The Core

I don’t particularly like using this term as it strikes connotations of just the abdominal muscles, but I am going to play the common thought and say that sitting destroys the core. I will save a more in-depth analysis of this area for another time in the not too distant future.

SO, what is the solution?  Well, movement of course. However, going to Yoga, Pilates, Gym classes, may not be specific enough.  By creating a mapping of your needs, you can proceed with precision and perhaps quickly integrate yourself into mainstream classes. This is where an in-depth analysis could give you the direction needed. 

If you require any further information or would like to chat through any issues you may have, then we are just a call/email away.

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