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Ergonomics: the value of preventing LPB

Dr. Christophe Savouré
Dr. Christophe Savouré, International Chiropractic Clinic. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Ergonomics: the value of preventing LPB

Dr. Christophe Savouré

Dr Christophe Savouré, a chiropractor with 20 years of experience in the field, worked in USA, UK, Thailand and Vietnam before opening the first licensed Chiropractic clinic in Cambodia.

According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, low back pain (LBP) is the primary cause of disability. Many studies have associated LBP with substantial financial costs and a loss of quality of life. In fact, LBP is the number one reason for missing days at work in the western world.

There are numerous reasons why people suffer from LBP, but occupational exposures represents a substantial source of preventable back pain. Therefore, it makes sense to educate people about the do’s and don’ts of general posture throughout their day.

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The good news is that a lot of it makes sense and does not require an engineering degree to understand. Ergonomics is an applied science designed for the workplace, especially within office settings, to increase worker efficiency and safety by reducing fatigue and discomfort. What it means is that proper work conditions help avoid and prevent injuries. Workplace injuries are often insidious and build up over time. When symptoms begin, it is often already too late for prevention. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Modern life involves a lot of time sitting: computer, TV, eating, socializing, transportation etc. Unfortunately sitting for long periods of time is not very healthy. Sitting has been linked to many health issues as increased cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and back pain. So to prevent this, there are a few rules that need to be followed to decrease the negative effect on one’s health.

We should not sit for more than 50 minutes at a time. Actually a NASA doctor, Dr Joan Vernikos, calculated that we need to get up at least 35 times a day from our chair. In an eight hour workday, that equals getting up around every 10-15 minutes. All we need to do is to get up for a few seconds before sitting again. That is enough to decrease the negative buildup on the body.

Another aspect of ergonomics is to have a workstation that decreases stress. The diagram provided here will show you how to sit. The most important is to avoid slouching. So sit straight. The top of your screen should be level with your eyes; look at the angles of the elbows—not too high, not too low.

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The spine has to be in a neutral position to avoid too much stress. But here in Cambodia most people slouch when they sit. I can see it when people are in their cars, driving a motorbike, socializing, or dining at a restaurant. The sad part is to see young Cambodian teenagers slouching in an aloof posture. During the adolescent years of growth, the vertebrae have not yet fully formed. They are made of soft cartilage and slowly expand and only become bone as we develop and our bodies mature. These teenagers put a lot of undue pressure on their spine, causing the vertebrae to develop unnaturally—a square shape but slightly wedged in the front. A bit like elderly people are after years of hard work, causing them to walk bent forward at the waist. So these teenagers will develop early back problems which often lead to herniated disks. It is very saddening to see a 20-year-old having to go through surgery because they had bad posture for years and nobody taught them how to sit straight properly or the necessity of exercise. Youngsters spend so much time in front of their computers, TVs, and Smartphone’s that they barely move anymore. Look at the picture; does it not remind you of everyone? Parents and teachers should remind people to sit straight. It is not easy after years of bad habits, but we have no choice. When it is too late, well it’s not like we can ask for a new body to start again. We have to take care of our own body. This is the most valuable possession we have and as many people say: health has no price.

Today give your body some help (and tell anyone you care about). Learn about good posture and start exercising. Your lifestyle determines how your body will be in the future and ask anyone who experiences pain if they wish they could turn back the clock and make these simple changes before it’s too late?


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