Archive for June, 2013

Computer ergonomics and physiotherapy

Does work give you a pain in the neck and back?

With the huge reliance on technology in the workplace an increasing number of people are working for long hours in relatively fixed positions, performing repetitive movements while working hard to meet deadlines.  Common problems are aching felt in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower back, wrist and elbow joints and in some cases pain, numbness and pins and needles felt in the arm and/or hands.  These symptoms can signal the onset of OOS (Occupational Overuse Syndrome) also called Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), which may include damage to tendons, muscles, nerves and other soft tissues from repeated physical movements over time.

Make sure you pay attention to your posture both at home and at work, especially when using your computer.

Physiotherapy Can Help!

A physiotherapist with knowledge in ergonomics and work related conditions can perform an individual work station assessment.  Recommendations will be given such as the correct seating and workspace layout to prevent such conditions happening.  Risks will be identified and advice given on correct posture, height of the desk and chair, position of screen, mouse and keyboard.

Guidelines for healthy computer use

Start Moving and Stretching:  Get up from your work station for a short stretch or walk around to promote blood flow to fatigued muscles every hour.

Variety:  Add variety to your tasks.  Take every break as an opportunity to go for a short walk, exercise and relax.  Try to vary your tasks.

Reduce Strain:  Make sure you are sitting correctly with your back supported.  Speak to us about ways to ensure you are sitting in the best possible position.

Talk to your physiotherapist:  This pain and discomfort can be prevented, but if symptoms do occur, early intervention is the best form of treatment.  If you are experiencing regular or increasing discomfort while sitting at your computer, take early corrective action.  A physiotherapist will listen to your problems and concerns, and will enquire about your activities and life style.  They will then examine you, and discuss these findings with you.  Following this, together you will work out a plan of exercises and stretches, and importantly look at changes that can be made to prevent the problems, especially to avoid recurrence.



As in the fairy tale, the same shoe does not fit all feet. Shoe size is of course critical, but there are a number of other factors that need to be considered when purchasing shoes. In this article I will discuss the function of the foot, problems that may occur, and how choosing the right type of shoe can make all thedifference to normal foot function.

Most people are familiar with the terms “flat” and” high arched” feet.  In medical terms the flat foot is generally known as a pronated foot and the high arched foot as a supinated foot. Variance in degrees of pronation and supination is common between people and may occur from one foot to the other. The terms pronation and supination also describe the variable position the foot travels through with normal weightbearing. As we walk the foot moves through varying degrees of pronation and supination to allow our feet to adapt to changes in terrain, and the position required as the foot moves from striking the heel on ground contact to pushing off with our toes as we take a step. Pronation allows the body to absorb shock when it lands. When running, the heel takes the equivalent of five times your body weight on heel strike. This force is dissipated throughout the body. Supination is required to lock the foot when pushing off. This provides power in order to walk and run faster.

Most people can adapt for minor differences from the ‘ídeal’ foot posture but from time to time we all

get sore, achy, tired feet. There are a number of factors that can cause pain around our feet.

Changes in foot wear, the surfaces we stand or run on and activity levels are common factors seen when reviewing problem feet. An excessively pronated foot means that various tissues within the foot may be placed under greater stress with resultant pain in the arch, heel or into the achilles area and may be a factor in the development of a “bunion”. Likewise an excessively supinated foot is less able to absorb load and may be a factor in foot pain. Our foot posture can also influence a number of other areas in our body.  Shin, knee, hip and spinal pain can result from alterations in foot posture and function.

Correct choice of footwear is important. As there are many so different types of shoes on the market today it can be very confusing when deciding on which shoe to choose. Sports shoes are available in control and neutral designs to accommodate different foot needs. It is important to get the right shoe for your foot posture to ensure the maximum support for your foot.  Talk to your Physiotherapist or sports shoe retailer about issues you may have, and get advice on which shoe is right for you. In some cases an additional insert or orthotic may be required to assist with alteration in foot posture.

Selecting the right shoe does not always mean you have to buy the most expensive model .Generally the

more expensive models tend to have more stability control which will make a significant difference if your foot requires that control. Shoes are also designed for different function and it is important that you use the correct shoe type for your activity. Running shoes need to provide control and stability in a different plane than a court or squash shoe. Your sports shoe retailer will be able to advise you on what shoe is best suited for your needs. If you experience foot or leg problems, seek advice from your physiotherapist or a good sports shoe retailer before selecting your next pair of shoes.

Duncan Drew is a Physiotherapist at the Oamaru Physiotherapy Clinic .He is a credentialed McKenzie Physiotherapist and has a special interest in Sports injuries and Spinal conditions. He has played Cricket at National level and was a member of the successful North Otago Team who recently secured the Hawk Cup 

Source:  Oamaru Physiotherapy Clinic written by Mike Stewart and Michelle Sintmaartensdyk

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