Sinoyolo Gangathele | 12 February 2018

Ergonomics is the study of the human body in relation to the working environment. Ergonomics awareness results in reduced injuries in the workplace or at school. The most common reported injuries include:

  • Repetitive motion injuries (RMI)

  • Strain injuries

  • Cumulated trauma disorders (CTD)

These injuries are caused by applying pressure on yourself by overreaching, stress to an organ due to repeated motion, and maintaining the same position over a certain period. Common symptoms would include back pains, neck and or shoulder pains, and sore arms or legs. All these eventually lead to more serious joint and or spinal problems over time.

Body mechanics refers to the principles of proper body alignment, balance and movement. Simply put, it is the ways we move as we go about our daily lives. Poor body mechanics is often the cause of spinal problems, when you do not sit or move properly, the spine is subjected to unnecessary strain leading to injury and joint degeneration. The following simple principles are employed in body mechanics to avoid injuries:

  • Posture: stand up straight, this ensures that your spine is in its anatomical position, not bent or strained in any way.

  • Base of support: stand with your feet apart, this ensures stability as gravity also works in your favor.

  • Standing: avoid standing in one position for prolonged time periods, change positions as often as you can, not only does this relieve spinal stress but also increases blood circulation and reduces muscle fatigue.

  • Lifting: as students, we carry bags and big textbooks that do not fit on our backpacks at times, when carrying something, remember to hold it close to your upper body or pelvis, as this allows gravity to work in your favor and reduce the strain on you. Bend your knees when you pick up a heavy bag, this is to distribute the weight onto your legs instead of straining your back

  • Sitting: exam time is the worst when it comes to long hours sitting, so when sitting, place your feet flat on the floor and bend your legs to a 90° angle, also to minimize arching spinal positions.

In addition, if you can, avoid repetitive movements that strain one body part over and over, rather distribute the weight or use the other arm to carry your bag. Your spine will thank you later.