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Back to school and work: Ergonomic advice to start the year right

It’s almost possible to hear the collective groans of millions of people in Australia, somewhere in the middle of January, as they lurch away from the beach or pool-side and back to their respective workplaces and schools.

As we all return to business as usual, it’s easy to forget that workplaces and schools can cause us unintended injuries. Pains, strains, neck and back pain and joint pain are some of the most common ailments people suffer.  Thankfully, they are also the most easily treatable.

Costing the Australian economy over $60 billion dollars per year, workplace injuries are more common than you think with over 106,000 workplace injury claims made in 2013-2014.  

Below is a a guide to office ergonomics and workplace safety. The basic rule of thumb is that preventing injury begins with managing your 1. Posture, 2. Activity, 3. Environment.

Workplaces: an ergonomic and injury avoidance checklist  

Posture

  • Switch positions regularly at your desk. Many repetitive strain injuries occur because you’re sitting for too long in the same position.
  • Ensure that your back is supported and that your shoulders are relaxed but not slumped.
  • Ensure that your eye-line is straight when looking at the top third of your computer screen,  and that your neck doesn’t need to angle up or down to view the top part of your computer screen.
  • Keep a neutral position with your forearms and hands in a straight line on the desk while seated.  
  • Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep your mouse and keyboard close.
  • Get your eyes checked. Generally, if you need to squint to view what’s on the computer screen, you will automatically create an awkward posture for your body.  Over time, this will lead to injury and discomfort..

Activity

  • Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day and walk around to get the blood moving in your body. Even better, leave the building for a walk.
  • Give your eyes a break regularly by closing them, blinking and looking off into the middle distance.
  • Instead of emailing someone in the office, go over to their desk to ask a question. Not only are you getting more exercise this way, you’re also making your relationship with them more personable.  
  • Avoid doing the same repetitive action, such as moving boxes, bending or reaching, for more than 1 hour at a time.

Environment

  • Eliminate sunny glare from windows. This may cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness of your laptop screen if you regularly move around in changing lighting conditions.
  • Employ stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to help with stress.
  • Remove all debris and obstructions from the workplace floor that could be a tripping hazard to people.
  • Ensure that stairwells have adequate lighting and signage to avoid trips and falls.
  • Ensure that lighting in your office is adequate and clear. This will help to prevent eye strain.
  • Covered footwear is a normal requirement for most industrial workplaces.
  • Protective clothing and helmets are a normal requirement in many industries as well.
  • A clean and hygienic workplace prevents rodent or insect infestations that could pose a health risk.
  • Machines and power tools should be checked regularly to ensure that they meet safety requirements.

If you have recently had a workplace injury or you suffer from ongoing pain problems at work, you can speak to the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. The team are experts at identifying, assessing and providing personalised treatment plans for these kinds of injuries.

 

Tips for parents to ease the kids back into school

Here are some tips so that your children have the best chances to learn and give their full attention to the teacher this year.  

1. Sleep is a big priority

Children need a lot more sleep than adults. For a comprehensive guide on sleep for people of all stages of life, read Sleep and Recovery: Five ways that sleep mends your body by the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. When children get enough sleep, they have the cognitive power to learn and absorb more throughout the day. Over summer they may have been allowed to stay up later than usual, but make sure you return them to a regular routine.

2. Create a quiet, well-lit area for homework

Ideally homework should be done at a desk or a table. It should not take place near a TV or with easy access to mobile devices. Ensure that the study area is well-lit and has a desk and chair that’s optimised for their physical body. For younger children, parents should decide on the time of day for homework, either before dinner or after dinner, and stick to the routine.

3. Ensure children have enough down-time and play time

Playtime and physical activities are essential for children. It’s essential for them have a balance between sleep, learning, rest and play. That’s the recipe for their ongoing happiness.

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we treat and correct children’s posture along with many other specialities. If your child has a sporting injury or is suffering from neck or back pain, please reach out to us, we are happy to help.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy strives to keep everyone in the Maroubra community healthy, active and moving. The best medicine is preventative and educational. So make sure you subscribe to this blog via Facebook.

Four Smart New Year’s Resolutions for your health that will actually work in 2019!

Four Smart New Year’s Resolutions for your health that will actually work in 2019!

Could we please have a show of hands if you’ve ever promised yourself that in the new year, you would magically transform into sparkling new human being?

It’s very reassuring to know that we all make these promises to ourselves! Don’t worry, you’re not alone in that!

This ultimate guide from Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will show you how to bootstrap yourself in 2019 with pragmatic goal-setting. You will learn how to realistically stay the course towards a new and improved you and not become disheartened along the way.

A word first about goals

If you want to take on a big change to your health in 2019, then it’s best to attempt this in bite-sized pieces. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll break your commitment or feel demotivated if the goal is too lofty and seems unreachable along the way. A good way to think about health goals is to make them SMART.

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

Here are some common new year’s resolutions and then a SMART alternative goal that is going to be far more effective, to get you where you need to be…

Faulty: “In 2019 I’m going to eat healthier”

SMART: “I’m going to replace 2 take-away meals per week with 2 home-cooked and vegetarian meals every week”

If you focus on changing your entire diet, you will literally bite off more than you chew. Instead of telling yourself you need to eat healthier in 2019, you should focus on making the goal concrete, measurable and realistic.

By doing away with an ‘I can’t eat that’ restrictive mindset, you won’t feel guilty each time you want unhealthy food. This kind of restrictive mindset might lead you into an unhealthy food binge. Instead, by having a concrete goal of adding healthy food to your overall diet, you will be able to monitor how close you get to achieving this every week. When you do, you can pat yourself on the back!  

So how do you define healthy food? That’s a rather complex question. But it’s a good idea to steer clear of heavily processed foods with additives and preservatives in them. Instead opt for organic wholefoods or unprocessed foods like lean meats, organic dairy, vegetables and fruit. For quick and portable snacks, replace chocolate and chips with fruit and nuts. These are real fuel for the body that will keep you fuller for longer. For more detailed information on nutrition, read the Guide to Discretionary Food and Drink Choices by the Australian Government’s Eat for Health program.

Faulty: “I’m going to look really muscly/really skinny in 2019”

SMART: “I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes every other day”

This kind of faulty new year’s resolution fails to take into consideration that exercise is a constant daily commitment towards overall health. If you make exercise a daily habit, combined with a balanced diet, you will get results.

The problem with this faulty resolution is that you may hit the gym initially with gusto and determination. This overzealous exercise may lead to a strain, sprain or sporting injury, because you’re being too extreme with your workout.

A smarter approach to exercise would be to commit to a manageable and realistic amount of exercise every second day. This may be a lunchtime walk around the block during work hours, kicking around the football with the kids in the backyard in the evening, or walking the dog.

When we are realistic and have an easily achievable goal, this becomes less of a chore and more of a pleasure. Eventually this turns into a healthy habit that totally changes your life.

As a bonus, with this approach you may look into the mirror one day and see a hot version of yourself staring back, just not instantaneously.

Faulty: “I’m going to lose 10 kilos in a month”

SMART: “I’m going to eat five healthy meals per week and exercise for 30 minutes every other day”

While we can control our own behaviours towards eating healthier foods and exercising more, we can’t fully control how much weight we will lose. Looking at the scales and seeing the scales tip in the wrong direction may make you feel bad and discouraged. Instead of worrying about what the scales say, focus on what you need to do to make it happen.

This might mean committing to going to the gym every other day to do a workout. It might mean fitting in more vegetables and lean protein into your diet, rather than getting take-away foods. Measurable and practical goals are far easier to achieve.

Faulty: “I’m going to quit my job because of the physical pain I’m in at work”

SMART: “I’m going to get an ergonomic assessment of my work space and desk. And I’m going to do stretches at my desk every working day”

Before making any dramatic decisions, like quitting your job, it’s always a good idea to work out the core reason why you’re having pain during working hours. Whether you have an active or sedentary job, the way you’re moving and the way you interact with objects in your workplace affects how you feel. A desk that isn’t calibrated to your height will result in back, neck and eye strain over time. For people who work in a warehouse or other industries, a poor technique with lifting items in a warehouse will result in problems with their lower back.

The great news is that you don’t need to take drastic action to resolve that kind of pain. With a personalised treatment approach to workplace related conditions, the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help you to resolve this issue with our therapeutic approaches and techniques. This will help you to return to work quickly and prevent further injury.

Would you like some help with making some realistic SMART goals for your fitness, health and injury recovery? Book a consultation with the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy today and get a customised approach to sports injury recovery.