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Posture, ergonomics & the therapist

The steps you take today to sustain your body’s condition will help ensure a long and prosperous career in your industry.

Statistics will vary on this, but did you know that the average life span of a therapist can be between 4 and 8 years? Wow, not long to get the best out of your skills is it! This is why it is of utmost importance to look after yourself to prolong your career.

In this blog I am going to talk through the ergonomics of a therapist and how posture and looking after your body is soooo important. I am definitely guilty myself of prolonged ‘sat at desk’ syndrome, and always have been conscious of my ‘stance’ when carrying out treatments and massage to my clients. It is something we drill into our students too when teaching, in the way they hold themselves when working at a couch and within their therapy room.

So, what is ergonomics? say that “Ergonomics is a science concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It puts people first, taking account of their capabilities and limitations. Ergonomics aims to make sure that tasks, equipment, information and the environment fit each worker.”

The science of ergonomics looks at the following and the effects these can have on your health and comfort, such as:

· How you work

• Your body movements

• Your positioning

• The tools and equipment you use

What can happen to your body if you do not take care of your posture and your positioning during treatments? You can develop RSI (Repetitive strain injury) as well as strain to the:

  • Neck and back

  • Foot and leg

  • Shoulders

  • Hand & wrist

Strain can occur if you:

• Bend forward when performing a treatment.

• Twist your body to get closer to a client or to reach for something on a trolley or shelf for example.

• Reach overhead for products or equipment.

• Arch (lean) backward because you have been standing for a long period of time.

• Stand for a long time in high-heeled shoes.

So, how can we ‘carry’ ourselves in a better way?

  • Bend at your hips instead of your waist.

  • When working, keep your back straight and your feet at hip width apart.

  • Set your trolley up at elbow level or just below.

  • Ensure you have the correct height set for your treatment couch and stool (See blog on choosing your massage couch)

  • Do not be afraid to ask your client to tilt their head to help you with access for the treatment if you are both comfortable.

  • Make sure all your tools and equipment are set up close to you, so you do not need to strain to access or use them.

  • Do stretching exercises when you are on your breaks and take regular short breaks throughout the day.

  • Make sure you change your position frequently when standing up.

  • Correct footwear is important! They should be comfortable, low-healed, good arch support and they should be comfortable.

  • If your therapy room has hard flooring, try putting a mat on the floor to help with cushioning.

  • Have a stool / chair on wheels to rest on when working on clients. If your stool is moveable, it will help with getting yourself into the right position to perform the treatment on the client.

  • Do regular hand exercises and massage your own hands.

  • Take time for regular massage treatments for yourself.

  • Use your arm strength instead of your hands & wrist where possible.

  • Relax your hands when massaging. Keeping them rigid can contribute towards hand & wrist strain.

  • Avoid slumping or slouching.

  • Do not carry or lift heavy objects alone.

  • Try not to tense your shoulders when performing a treatment.

The height of your treatment couch is so important, I have also written a blog on massage couches, check it out in my blog menu.

I hope this has helped?

Thank you for reading 😊

Karen xx

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