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Are Static Postures Damaging Your Health and Productivity?

Feb 5, 2024 | All Articles, Ergonomics, Productivity, Custom Solutions

Static postures are prevalent in sedentary job roles within manufacturing and fulfillment operations. Prolonged sitting increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Prolonged standing may elevate the likelihood of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

When adopting a passive position for an extended period, the muscles stop moving and lose their ability to keep the tissues stretched and vascularly open.

Constricted blood circulation reduces the oxygen and nutrients delivered to the muscles. Acids, toxins, and other wastes accumulate in the tissues, leading to discomfort and potential damage.

Don’t worry, though.

Employees can mitigate the adverse effects of static postures by taking proactive measures. The key is to find the proper balance between sitting and standing, as well as between static postures and movements.

This article will discuss the ergonomic risk factors associated with static postures and provide solutions to help keep people healthy and productive at work.

Let’s dive in!

What is static posture?

Static posture refers to the condition of staying in the same posture or position for extended periods, typically during work. It can inhibit blood flow and cause muscle damage. In addition, static posture can affect the nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, and tendons. It is one of the ergonomic risk factors that could cause WMSDs.

Jobs that require employees to remain in one position for long durations can result in aching muscles, backache, or leg cramps. In the long run, they could damage their ankle, knee, and hip joints.

Employees could also experience severe pain in their wrists and hands, elbows, forearms, neck, and shoulders. As a result, carrying out daily routine tasks can get difficult.

From tight muscles to injuries, the work area can pose some severe ergonomic risks. Ouch!

Let’s dive deeper.

Effects of static postures

Occupations that require prolonged sitting or standing coupled with repetitive movements and/or awkward postures can cause soreness and fatigue. Additionally the back, shoulders, neck, legs, and wrists can experience stiffness and discomfort, depending on the posture, work duration and exertion level.

Let’s see how prolonged sitting and standing can affect employees’ health.

Prolonged sitting: health risks involved

Prolonged sitting at a workstation can result in many health complications.

The muscles need to hold the body, neck, and shoulders upright when sitting. This exertion compresses the blood vessels in the muscles.

As a result, insufficient blood supply makes the muscles liable to cramps and injury. It also contributes to the degeneration of the spinal discs.

You can experience the following side effects from too much sitting:

Neck and shoulder pain

Improper posture can cause muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, which can result in strained muscles.

Moreover, the blood vessels in your arms can become slightly constricted.

Hence, you can suffer from painful neck and shoulder muscles due to improper blood supply.

Back pain and degeneration of spinal discs

Prolonged sitting is among the leading causes of back pain. The resulting stress on the lower back leads to an imbalance in the lower back muscles.

When the lower back muscles are weak, they cannot hold up the heavy abdominal organs. This effect causes the organs to sag forward, putting more pressure on the spinal discs.

As a result, the spinal discs deteriorate faster than average.

The spine functions like a coiled spring. Prolonged sitting or standing weakens back muscles and reduces spine elasticity.  This imbalance can cause degeneration of spinal discs.

Poor blood circulation

Prolonged sitting slows down blood circulation. So, you can suffer from painful leg cramps and numbness in the feet.

A chair that is too high can put pressure on the underside of the thighs. As a result, your legs could get stiff or swollen.

Muscle degeneration and osteoporosis

When you sit for long, you also use less energy which lowers your metabolic level. This, together with poor blood circulation, may result in muscular degeneration and osteoporosis.

Prolonged standing: health risks involved

Standing consistently for long durations at work results in fatigue and stiff muscles. It also hampers blood flow to the lower limbs, causing pain in the legs, thighs, and lower back. Prolonged standing also puts tremendous pressure on joints like the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Eventually, it makes walking challenging.

You can experience the following side effects from prolonged standing:

Varicose veins

When you constantly stand for a long time, blood gathers in your feet and legs, resulting in inflamed veins. Over time, you may develop painful varicose veins.

Heel problems

Standing for extended periods in one place puts tremendous pressure on the feet. As a result, you can develop plantar fasciitis or heel spurs. You can also get painful bunions and corns from the pressure of your shoes.

Don’t let a wrong posture destroy your health. Let’s look at the right ergonomic equipment and practices to counter the negative effects of static postures.

Solutions

Employers can adopt various ergonomic guidelines and initiatives to encourage proper postures and movements among their employees.

For example, incorporating adjustable sit-stand workstations to accommodate each employee’s height could be beneficial. A thoughtfully designed and organized workplace not only improves efficiency but also provides room for employees to move around and change positions.

Greater flexibility will improve blood supply and consequently reduce stress on muscles and joints. All these factors could contribute to a decrease in health issues associated with static postures.

Workplace health solutions can reduce ergonomic risk factors for improved employee health and productivity.

In this section, we dive into ergonomic solutions for static postures.

Improve your workspace design

Establishing an effective workplace layout is the initial step in preventing musculoskeletal disorders. Follow our step-by-step Plan Your Workstation Guide to set up a workspace that is optimized for ergonomics and productivity.

Placing tools, supplies, and other components in proper reach zones could help minimize awkward body positions such as reaching, stretching, twisting, and bending. It is especially important if the employee must maintain a static posture for an extended period.

Unfamiliar with the concept of reach zones? We developed a Comprehensive Guide on Reach Zones to help you understand the ergonomic principles behind our recommendations.

Download reach zone guide

An ideal workspace also takes into consideration that employees need room to move around and engage different muscle groups.

 

Choose the right workstations

Selecting the right workstation type will allow workers to sit or stand in different positions and change postures frequently. This strategy will distribute the load across the muscles being used in a particular task.

Electric height adjustable workstations can be set at the optimal height for each operator in a sitting or standing position. Quick and easy height adjustment at the touch of a button encourages workers to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.

The combination of sitting and standing introduces variability, activates diverse muscle groups, and alleviates strain. It mitigates the adverse health effects of static postures.

Moreover, it seamlessly integrates into the workflow with minimum non-value-added motions.

From manufacturing companies to warehouses, workers get more done with more comfort using electric height adjustable workbenches.

Use appropriate accessories

Utilizing adjustable accessories ensures that employees can maintain neutral body positions regardless of the postures they adopt at work. This significantly reduces the risk of developing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) associated with static positions. Here are a few examples.

  1. Pneumatic height adjustable monitor arm: Provide optimum flexibility to move the monitor into a position that fits you and your posture.
  2. LED magnification lamp: Add additional light and magnification for detailed tasks; can be adjusted to your position.
  3. Footrest: Build-in or free standing to allow workers to shift body weight from one leg to the other while standing and maintain a neutral body position when sitting.
  4. Articulating bin holder: Place small items within reach where needed and swing out of the way when not in use.

Use our 3D Workstation Builder tool to see what options are available and configure your ideal workstation.

Try our 3D workstation builder

Take mini-breaks

Taking frequent short breaks during the workday helps reduce the physical stress on the body caused by prolonged static postures. To maximize the benefit, employees can follow a simple exercise routine to prevent muscle stiffness and soreness.

In our “Benefits of Ergonomic Stretches at Workbenches” blog, we included some quick and easy stretch exercises workers can try out at their workstations.

These exercises can improve blood circulation, posture, and mood, making the workday more productive and enjoyable.

Switch between tasks

Switching tasks is a proactive strategy to counteract ergonomic challenges associated with prolonged static postures.

This approach provides an opportunity for the muscle groups involved in one task to rest and recover while another task is undertaken.

A structured, rotating schedule can effectively alleviate muscle tension, promoting overall well-being. Switching tasks could also contribute to a sharp and focused mind throughout the day.

Conclusion

Extended periods of sitting or standing, coupled with repetitive actions, can lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Static postures and repetitive movements put pressure on muscles and joints. They also reduce blood flow resulting in fatigue, acute pain, and health risks. A well-designed workspace with appropriate accessories can help prevent these problems.

Your employees spend a lot of time in the workspace. Prioritizing their well-being is paramount. BOSTONtec offers the right ergonomic solutions to help your most valuable asset stay healthy and productive. Reach out to our team today to get started.

Contact us for advice on workstations

About the Author

Nina Neuschuetz
Nina Neuschuetz
As the Marketing Manager for BOSTONtec, Nina brings a wealth of experience with over 25 years of B2B marketing expertise in both the United States and Europe. Her tenure at BOSTONtec has been marked by a keen focus on ergonomics within the industrial market. Notably, she lead an ergonomic study in collaboration with the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina State University and developed comprehensive ergonomic guides for industrial and commercial workstation environments. Nina’s role extends to collaborating with customers and partners, guiding them through market trends and solutions tailored for the industry. She holds a post-graduate degree in Marketing and Business Administration from the University of Passau, Germany. Connect with Nina to explore ergonomic solutions and industry insights on her LinkedIn profile.
Yi Han
Yi Han
Yi Han is the Marketing Specialist at BOSTONtec. Through her years of collaboration with applications engineers, customer service specialists, and customers, she has cultivated a deep understanding of the transformative power of ergonomics and its applications across industrial, medical, and technical settings . Her primary focus is to inspire individuals and organizations to find the right workplace solutions that optimize productivity and prioritize overall well-being. Yi holds an MBA degree from the Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management at Northwood University in Michigan. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest insights on workplace ergonomics.

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