Understanding static posture and how to avoid it through good ergonomics can help keep workers safe. Musculoskeletal injuries caused by poor posture are common across a range of occupations, but practicing good ergonomics can make the difference between a long healthy work life and one that is riddled with pain and injury.
What is Static Posture?
Static posture occurs from keeping the same position for a prolonged period of time. Also known as static loading, it can occur in any position such as sitting, standing, kneeling or sleeping.
Static posture can often cause reduced blood flow as muscles are not being activated. The longer or more frequently static posture occurs, the higher the risk of injury due to overuse of muscles, joints and soft tissue.
During an extreme static posture, there is a reduced blood flow and a higher load on muscles and tendons that can cause cramping, inflammation and nerve damage. Known as cumulative trauma disorder, it occurs from prolonged exposure to the harmful position.
The opposite of static posture is dynamic posture, which is how you hold yourself or the position of your body in general while moving. Think about the posture you hold while you’re running, jumping or even walking.
Can Static Posture Cause Injury?
Static posture can cause injury because muscles and tendons are maintained in the same position for a long period. Muscle strain and fatigue adds to the risk of a musculoskeletal injury. The risk of injury is heightened with:
Which Occupations Suffer From Static Posture?
High numbers of workers are at risk of static posture because their occupation requires them to maintain the same position for long periods.
Typing or holding a phone can cause arm and wrist injuries in office workers. An ergonomic office chair can reduce static posture in the lower back and abdominal areas. By maintaining a neutral back and neck, the body isn’t held in a harmful abnormal position.
For people who use a phone and two hands to type at the same time, there’s the risk of a neck injury due to the awkward position needed to cradle the phone. A phone and computer headset allows workers to maintain a neutral neck and shoulders while talking on the phone and typing.
The most effective way of changing your posture in an office is to alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day. A sit stand height adjustable desk means using a different set of muscles each time you change positions.
Checkout operators often stand in the same position for long periods. While their upper body is moving, their lower body holds the same position. An anti-fatigue mat keeps the muscles working and blood flowing in the legs and feet. The round or raised bottom allows for dynamic muscle activity during prolonged periods of standing.
A dentist may need to maintain the same awkward posture for two or more hours while they complete complex treatments, placing pressure on their lower back as a result.
Having a medical stool with a comfortable padded seat and castors can help reduce the risk of static posture for dentists as they are able to quickly move back from the patient and stretch or activate different muscles in the process.
While graphic designers are at risk of the same injuries as office workers, they have an additional repetitive task risk due to the excessive use of the mouse. Holding the mouse all day, clicking and moving it can cause finger, hand and wrist problems. An ergonomic mouse can help keep the hand in a more neutral position, with the arm in an upright position rather than a twisted forearm which can reduce muscle cramping and soreness.
How to Avoid Static Posture with Good Ergonomics
#1 Vary Your Day
Workers can reduce their risk of static posture by planning their workday. Completing the same task in large blocks might seem productive, but it’s actually counter-productive. Long periods spent performing the same task in the one position leads to fatigue and feeling uncomfortable, which causes poor work performance and leads to static posture. Instead, break up those blocks into shorter periods and swap between tasks. You’ll stay fresher and your body will benefit from changes in position.
#2 Organise a Workplace Assessment
If you feel like you’re at risk of static posture at your workstation, you can request a workplace assessment. Changing the workstation design and getting the right aids could keep you and your coworkers free of a debilitating musculoskeletal injury.
#3 Invest in Ergonomic Equipment
Ergonomic equipment may not look very different from poor quality office equipment, but the subtle differences add up. Every part of an ergonomic chair can be adjusted so that it can provide the right lumbar and upper back support for the individual using it. Adjustable armrests can keep arms and wrists at the ideal height and keep the pressure off the neck and shoulders.
#4 Understand Static Posture
Everyone has heard of ergonomics in the workplace, but not so many workers are aware of the dangers of static posture. If you’re someone who gets into the flow of work and forgets to get up regularly from their desk for a break, set an alarm to remind you or wear a smart watch and set reminders on that.
#5 Check Your Workstation
Throughout the day, stop work and check your posture. Ask yourself if you're craning your head forward to see the small font on the screen. Has your mouse moved further away so you’re having to stretch to reach it? Perhaps the sun has moved and caused glare on your screen, so your posture has changed to avoid it. Small changes in your workstation can cause an awkward posture that may result in an injury.
Contact Egolink if you have any questions or want to discuss your ergonomic needs by giving us a call on 9240 7066 or contact us online.