• Ergonomics has gained increasing recognition as an integral component of career longevity in ophthalmology. You may not realize it, but the activities you perform day in and day out cause wear and tear on your body. Left unchecked over the years, this wear and tear can eventually lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), according to Jeffrey L. Marx, an ophthalmologist and lead presenter of the ergonomics symposium during the Academy’s annual meeting.

    To help offset risk for musculoskeletal injury, recommendations related to relaxation, movement and maintenance of ergonomic focus are proposed. 

    Ergonomics In the Office

    Check your computer habits. Good computer posture means:

    • Sitting as far back as possible in the chair
    • Feet flat on the floor with knees level with (or just below) your hips.
    • Adjust armrest to a height where your shoulders are at rest.
    • If you work on a laptop, get a stand. The top of the screen should be just above your seated eye level. Or, consider standing desks.
    • Don’t cradle the phone. If you’re on the phone a lot, consider a headset.
    • Stretch throughout your day or whenever possible. For example, a hip flexor stretch can help alleviate pain in the lower back hips caused by prolonged sitting.

    Ergonomics At Home

    Monitoring your posture and position during your off-duty activities is just as important.

    • Practice proper sleep posture. Make sure your pillow is not too high or too low. Your neck should be in neutral alignment. Sleeping on your stomach is likely the cause for still and painful neck. A back or side position is better.
    • When working on smartphones, the head is often tilted forward and down. This can lead to “text-neck,” or anterior head syndrome. Try holding the phone at eye level.
    • Practice corrective exercises. Corrective exercises can help alleviate pain caused by musculoskeletal imbalances.

    Exercises To Relieve Neck or Back Pain

    Here are three effective stretches that do not require standing or moving around your office space. These simple movements can help alleviate your neck and back pain—all from the comfort of your own office.

    Finger Point

    1. Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor, palm facing out.
    2. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling your fingers down and toward the body.
    3. Repeat on the other side.

    “Big Hug” Back Stretch

    1. Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder.
    2. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.

    Neck Retraction

    1. Sit in a neutral position, holding your head in a normal resting position.
    2. Next, slowly glide your head backward, tucking your chin in until you have pulled your head and chin as far back as they will go. Keep your head level and do not tilt or nod your head.
    3. Hold for three to five seconds, then release. 
    4. Repeat 10 times.