[OT] [TOOLS] Ergo stuff update

Subject: [OT] [TOOLS] Ergo stuff update
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 11:51:12 -0400

The mention of aching patooties in a recent thread reminded me
that we all (in this biz) spend a lot of time parked on ours.

Some time ago, I related that I was addressing work-related
back problems, and noted that I had begun using an exercise
ball (also called Swiss ball and other less flattering names)
as a seat.

Here's the low-down and the update, for anyone who is interested.

First things first, the ball has not yet burst. :-)

I rapidly worked up to using it all day, every day as a
chair. I found that I initially noted some improvement in
my lower back (reduced pain), but soon found that it was
returning... albeit subtly changed.

After searching for a possible cause, I read an opinion
stating that the dynamic requirements of sitting on an
otherwise unrestrained ball would keep the supporting
back muscles in a fairly constant state of tension, which
in turn would put compression pressure on the vertebrae
of the lower spine. That's a different stress vector than
results from slumping in an ordinary chair, and would
account for the fact that the pain had a different "flavor"
to it. (We're not talking about agonizing, reach for the
needle pain, just an annoying ache that would flare when
I'd rise from seated or lying position, or perform some
actions. The "Jeez, I'm gettin' old" kind of aches.)

My modified approach -- since I'd seen some improvement
from use of the ball and understood the mechanics --
was to alternate between the ball and a regular chair,
throughout the working day. A couple of hours on one,
then a couple on the other... swap at will.

The result, after a few weeks of that regime, is continued
improvement of function and sensation in my back in general,
despite some long workdays, recently.

Following an ordering glitch, I never did purchase the
stand-alone desk-attaching forearm rests that I wanted,
so a drawback of the ball seat is that my arms are
unsupported while I type and use the mouse. This can
cause tension in the upper back, which can eventually
lead to referred problems in the arms and hands. To
alleviate that, I perform the simple exercise that I
learned from a chiropractor. Frequently, during the day,
I clasp hands behind my back (palms up), point my chin
toward the ceiling, pinch my shoulder-blades together
while pushing downward with the clasped hands. Hold for
a few seconds, repeat, then resume typing. It's also
practically a miracle cure for tension headaches.
Haven't touched an aspirin in months.

You are now up-to-date on the continuing saga. There's
a way to go, but I consider the whole venture to be
a success. Work is more pleasant and my livelihood is
no longer at risk due to work-posture related injury.
So far. I take nothing for granted, now. Aging sucks,
but the alternative is worse.
YMMV. Void where prohibited. Prohibited where void.

You *did* delete or skip this if you weren't intersted
(as in "young and invulnerable"), didn't you? :-)


Kevin (older than some, but not yet older'n dirt)

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