Essential Facts on TMD and Ergonomics, Part III

Welcome back to week three of our series devoted to ergonomics and TMD. Two weeks ago we explored basic facts about ergonomics and how repetitive motion can worsen pain. We then explored important tips when driving a car. In our final installment, we will examine ergonomics both at work and in the home.

Bad_computer_postureThe Essential Home Computer Tips

At work, home or both locations most of us use a computer. That’s also one of the single greatest sources of trouble when it comes to ergonomics and TMD. Why? Because it’s so easy to sit for several uninterrupted hours in the same position while using the computer. This fatigues muscles of the neck, shoulder and back, leading directly to acute TMJ flares.

Follow these suggestions when using a computer. First, your workstation should be adjustable. That means your chair should be appropriately positioned so you don’t have to overextend to reach the keyboard.

Have ample workspace on your desk top. Both hands should be able to access the mouse of your computer. Make sure you alternate use of the mouse with both the right and left hand.

Some companies provide elevated desks for employees. This allows workers to stand up for periods of time while still remaining productive. Ask your employer if this is an option for your workstation.

Take breaks. Get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Walk around the office and allow your body to move in different directions.

If possible, schedule tasks so that your time at the computer is split up throughout the day. This will help you avoid long, extended hours staring at the computer screen.

What Are You Standing On?

You may be amazed at the little things that make a difference with ergonomics and TMD. In the home, your flooring plays a critical role. What are you standing on? Standing for long periods of time on concrete, stone and ceramic tile can exacerbate TMJ pain. Instead, seek out elastic materials for the home. Wood, cork and carpeted flooring are a good place to start.

The Little Things Count: Plugs and Power Tools

Electrical outlets are commonly located close to the floor. But many newer homes feature outlets in elevated places. Avoid bending over frequently, and whenever possible use the elevated outlets around the home.

In the kitchen, use power tools like electric knives, blenders, processors and mixers. This is easier on your hands and can help you avoid repetitive chopping, dicing and slicing motions. If you have to use knives, keep them sharpened. This will reduce excessive cutting motions.

We move items around our house all the time without thinking about it. Now is the time to start thinking about it. Test the load of an object before you move it, even objects that are considered familiar may be potentially problematic.

Do you have other helpful suggestions not listed here? Join the conversation and tell us what you do to improve ergonomics around the workplace and at home.


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