Ergonomic breaks help to increase worker productivity and reduce the occurrence of injuries.
Think of yourself as an “athlete.” An athlete wouldn’t participate in a sport without proper rest and warm-up, so use the same preparation on the job.
Stretches can help you warm up before work and relax during breaks; they increase flexibility and boost blood flow and oxygen to muscles. Perform stretches slowly and gently, avoid extreme postures, and stop stretching if you feel pain or discomfort. Physical and occupational therapists are the most qualified individuals to generate a specific stretching and warm-up program.
Ergonomic injuries commonly occur from forceful movements, repetitive motions, awkward postures, and a lack of rest.
Rest breaks are crucial, and give you a chance to recover. Take micro-breaks lasting 20 seconds every 20 minutes and take mini-breaks lasting three-to-five minutes, at least every hour. These short breaks help give your body a rest, reduce discomfort, and improve your performance.
Alternate your work activities and postures throughout the day—rotating tasks may seem inefficient, but the use of different muscle groups increases energy and maintains productivity. For example, if you work at a single workstation, move into different postures while you work. If possible, alternate between standing and sitting. When standing, it helps to shift body weight from one leg to another by using a footrest or built-in foot rail. If at a sitting workstation, stand up when taking micro-breaks. During mini-breaks, take a short walk from your workstation.
Pay attention to signs of discomfort and fatigue on the job; these are warning signs from your body. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, and get the rest your body needs to help minimize the chances of injury.