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My Back Hurts, Ouch, Ouch!

Do you work in one position for hours at a time without moving? So many people don’t realize the stress they are putting on their bodies: joints, muscles, tendons, and even eyes, by not taking regular breaks, and by not paying attention to the ergonomic factors in their workspace. No wonder you are crying out “My back hurts”.

“Ouch.  My back hurts.  Or is it my shoulder.  Well, it’s sort of both, but it’s in my neck, too.   Owwwwww…

 I’ll be right back.  I have to go get an aspirin.

 I hope the aspirin will help.  It did yesterday, but I don’t want to have to live on aspirin. My deadline is Tuesday morning…I have at least five more hours of work at the computer this evening. Ooooh. My back hurts. Do you think it’s this chair?”

 Does this sound all too familiar?  Are you leaving the office every day with a crick in your neck, a pinch in your spine, numb fingers, or all three? The hours (and hours and hours) so many of us are spending in front of the computer are affecting every aspect of our bodies and well being.  Eyes, muscles, nerves, joints, alignment, and brain function are being taxed to the max as we rack up sedentary work days, glued to chairs ill-equipped to protect us from major damage.  And that damage, sometimes irreparable, is on its way if we don’t heed the signs.

 That spazzed-out back/shoulder/neck is the result of an unsupported spine, which becomes misaligned when exposed to hours of sitting in a poorly designed and constructed chair.  When stress is added to the lack of alignment , and long-term repetition is added to that, we are looking at a recipe for disaster:

pinched nerves, slipped discs, muscle spasms, and carpal tunnel syndrome are only the beginning.

 Currently the field of Ergonomics is providing us with some ingenious contributions toward prevention.  However, it should be noted that the science of Ergonomics is not new.  One could argue that a common pot holder is an ergonomic design, as it allows the human to perform the task of removing a pie from the oven without dropping it, or burning the hands.  A hammer with a weighted head and a comfortable, padded handle takes stress off the wrist. Also, ergonomic.  Going back to the cave days, the rock that was carefully hollowed to allow the spine to curve into it was ergonomically conscious, as well.

 My sister suffered agony from a recurring pinched nerve and stiff neck. 

Spending endless workaholic hours at the computer taught her what her body would not, could not, tolerate.  

 Wake up call.

 She did some research and learned that this is a very common syndrome of our times, affecting millions of people.  After some investigation, she opted for relief and a return to the living: It’s called “The Aeron Chair”, from Herman Miller.  This amazing chair is the miraculous marriage of ergonomic science and beautiful design.  It looks like the coziest sports shoe ever, and sitting in it feels like body-suspension.  It has a special back support and engineered angles to align the body for blissful comfort and correct posture during marathon work hours.  Once I sat in it I couldn’t believe I was making do with my old desk chair.  

 A colleague of mine has taken a leave of absence to undergo two surgeries to correct pinched nerves.  I’m not sure what caused hers, but her departure was, for me, Wake up Call Number Two.

 My new ergonomic desk chair will arrive in ten days, along with a “Swopper”, an ergonomic stool which allows the user to access continuous motion while working at a table or drawing board.  Perfect. 

 They say prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 No more agony, no more exclamations of pain, no more “My back hurts”. Don’t suffer needlessly. Don’t subject your body to potential permanent damage when all that’s required is that you get out of your chair every 50 minutes, walk around the office, do some inconspicuous stretching exercises, and invest in a decent ergonomically designed chair.

 -Karen Saloomey

 © 2010 SHOPSICLE ®  All Rights Reserved



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