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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.

How to travel in comfort and avoid injury during a holiday

Great weather is finally here and most people are contemplating going away on holidays over the summer. If you’re going away to a far-flung location – you lucky thing! Make sure you read Maroubra Road Physiotherapy’s comprehensive guide to staying safe and looking after yourself and your family overseas.

Between 2016-2017 the Australian government’s consular services supported 1,701 Australians who got into trouble and were hospitalised far from home. In this article, we will provide you with a run-down of all the things you should consider to avoid injuries this silly season.

Choose a destination that’s safe

Some parts of the world are statistically more high risk for a holiday than others. Things that we take for granted in Australia like safe roads, law and order and political stability often don’t apply in other parts of the world. The Australian government’s Safe Traveller website can give you up-to-date safety insights for your dream destination.   

What to avoid on your next holiday

Here’s some food for thought, According to Bupa, these are the most common injuries or illnesses suffered by Australian tourists at popular tourist destinations. It’s worth keeping this in mind.

 

  • Thailand: Head Injuries from motorcycle and scooter accidents.  
  • Indonesia/Bali: Gastroenteritis.
  • France: Cycling accidents.
  • Singapore: Rabies and bacterial infections as a result of monkey bites.
  • Philippines: Parasitic water-borne viruses.
  • China and Mongolia: Respiratory and breathing problems.

 

Know your physical limitations

Often when we go on holidays, we can feel temporarily invincible. We’re away from the normal working week, so we feel more energised and bolder than usual. Holidays are often times when we try risky activities like free-diving, surfing in turbulent waters, mountain climbing or something else that tests our physical limits. This can be a grave mistake when not prepared for it and may result in injury or even worse!

Mentally you may feel emboldened by your sudden energy, but actually, you haven’t trained in the lead-up to your physically challenging activity and have overestimated your fitness. This is when strains, sprains, sporting injuries and back injuries often happen. In planning your adventure in the months prior, you should gradually increase your fitness levels and choose sport specific exercises that use the same muscle groups as your chosen activity. A personal trainer or physiotherapist will be able to provide advice for this.  

Advice for long-haul flights

Part of Australia’s charm is the multi-cultural diversity of its population.  For some people, this may mean up to 28 hours on a flight to get to their loved ones over Christmas. Long-haul flights can be the most boring and gruelling part of a holiday. You can make traipsing across multiple time-zones more enjoyable and less painful by following this advice.  

 

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the flight. Along with the pressurised cabin, these drinks will dehydrate you and leave you feeling more tired than you otherwise would.
  • Try and get some shut eye. Many people often take a sedative like Ambien or Valium on a long-haul flight. Yes you will probably sleep, but when you arrive, you will still feel groggy and half-asleep, which isn’t fun.
  • Invest in a decent pair of noise-cancellation headphones. These are designed to block out all ambient noise. You can comfortably listen to a relaxing album or podcast until you fall asleep. Planes are surprisingly loud. Blocking out all the ambient noise will make a long-haul flight far less stressful and tiring.     
  • Drink a lot of water to rehydrate your body. Before, during and after your flight, staying hydrated will make you feel more energised.
  • Don’t stay stationary for long periods of time. Instead, get up every hour, move and stretch.

 

Stretches on the plane

The key to feeling great after a flight is to do some leg work. Hours staying stationery in a confined place will mean that your blood becomes stagnated in the body causing swelling in the feet and ankles and in some cases, resulting in the dangerous DVT or deep vein thrombosis.

1. Fifteen calf raises every few hours

You should do some in-seat stretches every hour or two. A calf raise involves pushing up onto your toes and engaging your calf muscles. Then, if space allows, lift your legs so they are outstretched in front of you and flex your feet, hold for 20 seconds, and repeat.

2. Hamstring and glute exercise every hour  

The muscles in your hamstrings and glutes naturally shorten on a flight when you are stationery for many hours. This can cause pain and soreness in your lower torso. To help relieve soreness and pain, put your heel up onto the top of your opposite knee and push down on your leg to get a good stretch in your glute.

 

3. Neck and shoulder exercise every hour

Sitting down in a cramped position for many hours always leads to tension in the neck and shoulders. To alleviate this, do five shoulder rolls forward and then five backward, then turn your neck to the right and back to the centre five times and then turn it to the left and back to the centre 5 times. Try and do this every hour.

4. After your flight

Walking through the terminal after the long flight will help to loosen and warm up your muscles again. Then once you arrive in your hotel (Phew, finally!) you should do a gentle stretching or a gentle yoga routine to release tension in the legs, hips and lower back. This will help to re-energise you, help with jetlag and prepare you for sleep. For more advice on stretching and pain relieving exercises, speak with the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help

If you arrive back in Sydney after a holiday full of aches and pains, book an appointment today with our friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you like and share this with someone on Facebook who is going on holiday soon. Bon Voyage!

 

Five Tips To Help You Feel Great

Five Tips To Help You Feel Great

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy want to get you out and about and enjoying life! We know it’s hard to do this when you are suffering from pain or discomfort, so we’ve put together the following 5 tips to help you take advantage of life without pain!

Tip 1: Always keep your head level and your shoulders relaxed, especially during activities like walking, standing and even sitting. This will improve your posture and reduce the risk of back pain. Standing with your knees slightly bent can also be beneficial.

Tip 2: Try not to sit for long periods at a time. Stand up and stretch or walk around every 30 minutes.

Tip 3: Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common causes of back pain. Therefore, make sure you always observe correct lifting techniques – hold the load close to your body, feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, not your back, and lift from your legs. Avoid twisting! Use your feet to turn and don’t lift the load higher than waist height.

Tip 4: The correct type of mattress and pillow will help you get a great, relaxing night’s sleep. Both should be firm enough to support your body weight and shape. Your spine should be straight when lying on your side, and maintain a natural curve when lying on your back.

Tip 5: Promote good posture when seated, especially during driving by using a rolled up towel positioned for your lower back. This will help to prevent back and neck pain.