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work : well : wednesday : the best mouse

work : well : wednesday : the best mouse

workwellwednesdaymouseWith endless options to choose from, how do you know which mouse is best for you?

When choosing a mouse, consider this:

The ideal mouse allows you to maintain a neutral forearm and wrist position (similar to the position you would use during a handshake where the thumb is up and the baby finger is down).  Consider a ‘vertical’ or ‘ergonomic’ mouse.

The mouse should fit snugly in the palm of your hand.  If there is a gap between the mouse and your hand the mouse is too small for you, while if the end of the mouse is pressing into your palm the mouse is too big for you.  Travel mice should not be used on a regular basis.

A mouse with a thumb roller ball can be helpful for those with wrist strain or carpal tunnel syndrome by reducing strain to the wrist and forearm.  However, frequent use may increase strain through the thumb.


When choosing a mouse, consider how frequently you will be using it and for what applications.  Those using mouse-heavy programs may wish to choose a mouse that can be programed to be highly responsive to minimize the amount of repetitive forearm and wrist movements required.

Try the mouse out before you buy it – go in to a store that offers many options and try each one out to see if it fits properly before purchasing.

If you have wrist, forearm or hand pain, consult an ergonomist or regulated Kinesiologist for an ergonomic assessment.


work : well : wednesday : stretch it out

work : well : Wednesday : stretch it out



Do you have a physical job? Do you spend long periods of time in a static posture?  A warm up and stretching program (as part of a comprehensive ergonomics program) can help increase muscle flexibility, joint range of motion and reduce musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.


Some of the top benefits of stretching include:

  • Increased flexibility and joint range of motion
  • Improved circulation
  • Better posture
  • Stress relief
  • Enhanced coordination


It is crucial to use proper stretching techniques to maximize benefits and avoid injury.

  • Warm up first – stretching muscles while they’re cold increases risk of injury.  Think about trying to stretch a cold piece of bubble gum.  One quick pull and it snaps in half!
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds – it takes time to safely lengthen tissues
  • Don’t bounce – bouncing as you stretch can cause micro-tears in the muscle, leading to scar tissue during healing
  • Focus on a pain-free stretch
  • Relax and breathe freely
  • Stretch both sides of your body
  • Stretch before and after your activity – you will gain most benefit by lightly stretching after your warm up, then performing a more thorough stretching routine after your activity.



Adapted from ‘Stretching 101’ by Laura Invararity

work : well : wednesday : sitting pretty

work : well : wednesday : Sitting Pretty


Did you know that sitting for 8 hours per day can be just as detrimental to your health as smoking?  An improperly adjusted task chair can lead to back, neck, shoulder and hip pain as well as decreased circulation in the lower limbs.  Try adjusting your chair to suit your stature:


  • Adjust the seat height so that your feet are well supported by the floor or a stable footrest, and your knees are bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  • Adjust the backrest height so that the lumbar support sits snugly in your low back to maintain a neutral spine posture while seated. 
  • Backrest angle should be positioned to provide appropriate support during seated tasks.  A general guideline is between 95 and 105 degrees.  Keep in mind that as the backrest reclines, the relative position of the lumbar support rises.
  • Adjust the arm rest height to just below seated elbow height.  Arm rests should support your elbows and forearms during intermittent pauses in typing to unload the shoulder muscles.  Where possible, adjust the arm rest width so that they are hugging the sides of your body.


Don’t forget to get up and move every now and then.  Where possible, go for a walk to talk to your co-workers instead of picking up the phone.  Go and pick up your printing as you send it.  Get some fresh air!  Go for a walk at lunch to stretch your muscles, clear your mind and increase blood circulation throughout your body.

work : well : wednesday : the best fit


When considering the physical demands of a task, think about your working population. Will the majority of workers completing the task be Men? Women? Is the population Older? Younger? Taller? Shorter? Where possible, tailor the task and the work environment to meet the physical capabilities and characteristics of your working population. Fit the task to the worker to decrease risk of injury.

work : well : wednesday : Get low! Shovel that snow!

shovelsnowWork : well : Wednesday : Get low; shovel that snow!


“Whoever said  ‘do the job right the first time and you’ll never have to do it again’ never shovelled snow off a Canadian driveway, eh?” – Bob and Doug McKenzie .  Here are some tips for shovelling snow from a Kinesiologist’s perspective:




  1. First things first – warm up! Hopping out of bed at 5am and immediately lifting and pushing 800 lbs of wet snow will inevitably result in injury.  Make sure to warm up first to avoid muscle strain.  Go for a walk, or at the very least, start by brushing off your car to get your body moving.
  2. The biggest shovel is not necessarily the best shovel.  The bigger the shovel, the bigger the load.  Choose a medium sized shovel to control the weight of the load of snow you are lifting.
  3. Get low!  Use safe lifting, pushing and pulling principles.  Keep the shovel close to your body, elbows tucked.  Engage your core muscles. Get under the load by squatting down before lifting the shovel full of snow.  Use your legs instead of your upper body to do most of the work.
  4. Face the load that you’re lifting  head-on. Twisting while lifting increases risk of injury.
  5. Switch sides!  Vary your hand positioning on the shovel to equally distribute the load to both the left and right sides of your body.
  6. Take your time and take a break.  Shovelling is hard work – take a break every 5-10 minutes to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover and avoid fatigue.

work : well : wednesday : risk factors

RiskBlocks_croppedHow do you know if a work task is considered high risk for musculoskeletal injuries?  Consider the following factors: Force, Awkward postures, and Repetition.

  • Is the weight of the object lifted more than 25kg (male) or 15 kg (female)?
  • Is the initial push / pull force greater than 32 kg (male) or 22 kg (female)?
  • Does the worker handle a cumulative load greater than 10 000 kg per day?
  • Does the work environment or task require a bent or stooped posture?
  • Is the worker required to twist the trunk during the task?
  • Are objects handled above shoulder or below waist level?
  • Does the task require reach to the front or the side?
  • Is the task repetitive?

Any one or any combination of the above increases risk of musculoskeletal injury.   Reduce risk of injury by decreasing push/pull and lift/lower forces, designing the task and workstation to allow the worker to use good body mechanics, and institute a job rotation schedule to decrease repetitive movements and allow for muscle recovery.

work : well : wednesday : it’s about time!

workwellwednesday_abouttimeWhy does time matter?  Working in one position for a prolonged period of time may result in muscle fatigue and / or decreased blood flow, leading to risk of injury.  Give yourself a break!  Change positions frequently; alternate tasks to allow for muscle recovery.

work : well : wednesday : take it from a toddler

workwellwednesday_toddlersquatHave you ever watched a toddler pick something up off the floor?  Instead of bending their back and reaching down, they tend to use a squat technique, keeping the spine in a neutral posture.  This is the ideal technique to use to avoid injury when picking up a moderate to heavy object from floor-level.  Take it from a toddler and try it out!!

work : well : wednesday : typing posture

workwellwednesday_typingDo your wrists start to ache after a long day at the computer?  To avoid wrist fatigue and strain during typing, float the hands above the keyboard while keeping the wrists straight.   Rest the palms on the palm rest only during pauses in typing.  Place the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible on the same surface to avoid bending the wrist sideways repeatedly to access the mouse.

work : well : wednesday : rake it in!

workwellwednesday_fallishereFall is here!  While giant piles of colourful leaves are great fun for children, raking can wreak havoc on mom and dad’s backs.  To avoid back and shoulder aches while getting your lawn and garden ready for winter, try this:

  • When raking leaves, switch sides often to allow your upper body and back muscles to recover during the task
  • Keep the rake close to your body – minimize your reach to minimize strain on your shoulders
  • Alternate tasks – switch between raking and gardening every 20 minutes or so to change posture and decrease muscle fatigue
  • When splitting plants, get close to the plants and squat instead of bending to minimize back strain.

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