• 10 Ergonomic Pearls for a Healthy Career

    You are at the very beginning of what will be a long and hopefully healthy career. Incorporating helpful ergonomic habits into your practice now will ensure that happens.

    Good posture and body awareness are your secret weapons against ergonomic pitfalls and chronic injury. Here are 10 quick and easy pearls for the clinic, operating room and life that have been immensely helpful for me:

    See a slide show of poses and exercise to build strength and prevent injury.

    1. Develop Body Awareness

    Train your body to feel best in a strong neutral posture, and you will be far more likely to find yourself pain-free in the clinic and operating room for years to come.

    Try it now. Sit up straight. Think of a string pulling from the crown of your head, lengthening down through your spine and out your tailbone. As your torso lengthens, think of pulling your belly button inwards and drawing your lower ribs down to avoid rib flare. Lower your chin and relax your shoulders. Take five slow breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.

    If this is not your usual posture, you will notice that it takes work and that your whole core (front and back) is activated to keep you in this posture. Good posture creates space in your chest to breathe and length in your spine to protect your vertebrae. Practice good posture over and over again, every day throughout your day.

    2. Maintain a Strong Core

    Maintaining a strong core is an essential component of good posture. Good posture requires that you use your core muscles to lengthen and stabilize your spine. To protect our bones and joints, we must have strong muscles supporting them. Here are three great core exercises to do every day (our slide show below illustrates these moves):

    Bird dog: From a table position (with knees and both palms on the floor), extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind. Engage your core to maintain a flat back. Hold for three seconds then come back to table and switch sides. Repeat five times on each side. 

    Plank hold: This move involves holding yourself up with both arms in a position similar to the top of a pushup. Hold for 10-second increments and aim to do five to 10 repetitions.

    Side plank, plus clamshell: Lying on one side with knees slightly bent and elbow propped up underneath your shoulder, raise your top knee slowly and close again. Do 10 reps on each side.  

    Find illustrations for these poses and tips 3 through 10 in our slideshow below.

    Further Resources

    Hear more helpful tips from Dr. Palma at these sessions at AAO 2022

    • Saturday, Oct. 1, 9:45-11 a.m.
      SYM06: Physician Wellness: Tools to Take Home
    • Monday, Oct. 3, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
      Learning Lounge featuring wellness sponsored by the Academy’s Senior Ophthalmologist Committee
    Camille V. Palma, MD About the author: Camille V. Palma, MD, is a retina specialist in Chicago. She currently works closely with ophthalmology residents and fellows at Cook County Stroger Hospital. Dr. Palma is a certified, 200-hour trained yoga instructor and practices yoga regularly. She has led numerous classes tailored specifically for ophthalmologists at local and national meetings. She is passionate about sharing mindful movement techniques with her peers and increasing professional awareness of ergonomics, physician wellness and resilience.

    Yoga Exercises and Ergonomic Tips