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Reduce pain and prevent injury by improving your workspace

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  • Ergonomics:  How to optimize your workstation and posture to prevent pain and injury.

    In the modern work world many of us spend our days sitting at a desk in front of the computer.  The human body however was not designed for this sedentary lifestyle and will get stiff and sore from lack of movement.  Even if you are active outside of work, sitting at a desk with poor setup and slouched posture can give you chronic aches and pains or exacerbate existing injuries.

    Some common complaints that could be related to your posture include:

    • Neck pain and stiffness
    • Headaches
    • Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
    • Shoulder pain
    • Upper back stiffness
    • Low back pain
    • Sciatica

    Making some simple ergonomic adjustments to your workstation can help you feel more comfortable during and after your work day:

    • Ensure you have a good chair that is comfortable for you and adjusted properly.  Ideally you should be sitting with your buttocks to the back of the chair so that you are leaning against the backrest.  You may need to adjust the lumbar support or add a rolled up towel or small pillow behind the small of your back to support your spine’s natural curve.
    • Sit with both feet flat on the floor and the knees bent to about 90 degrees.  Adjust your chair height accordingly or add a stool under your feet if you can’t touch the ground.
    •  Adjust your computer monitor so that your screen is at eye level.  This can be as easy as putting a book underneath to raise it up.  You should not have to look down or strain to see your computer.
    • Have your keyboard at a comfortable height so that your elbows are bent to approximately 90 degrees and you are not reaching forward.  If you have a laptop, consider using an external keyboard so that you type in a neutral position.
    • Adapt your workstation to fit you.  Move things that you use frequently throughout the day (such as the phone, files, etc.) to a location that is easy to access so that you don’t have to reach or move awkwardly to get to them.  This will help you avoid sprains and strains from poor movement patterns.

    Even with the perfect ergonomic setup, poor posture can catch up to you.  Some common habits to AVOID are:

    • Crossing your knees.  Sitting in this position twists your pelvis and lumbar spine, putting extra strain on the muscles, joints, and ligaments.  While it may feel good temporarily, you probably need to keep switching positions to stay comfortable because your body is not in a neutral position.
    • Perching on the front of your seat.   While you may think it is good to try to hold yourself up straight without using the backrest it is not realistic to do this for an 8 hour day.  Your postural muscles will fatigue quickly and you will end up slouching and feeling sore.
    • Leaning your shoulders forward and head down to look at your computer.  Think of all the extra strain you are putting on your neck and shoulder to hold your body in this position!  Try to remind yourself to sit up tall – Think shoulders down and back and head up.  Your spine should feel long and supported, but not rigid.

    It is also important to stay active throughout the day and break up long periods of sitting in one position.  Here are some ideas to keep you limber throughout the day:

    ·       Set an alarm to get up and move every 20-30 minutes.  This could be as simple as standing up to do some stretches, taking a quick walk around the office, a washroom break, or going to get some water.  Interrupted sitting is the best way to prevent tightness from building up in your spine and soft tissues

    ·       Stretch at your desk.  There are lots of simple movements and stretches you can do as you work to keep your body feeling good.  Try to remember to move a little bit at least every 15-20 minutes.  Try stretching your neck side to side, moving your head gently in different directions, rolling your shoulders backwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together, stretching your legs out in front of you, and moving your feet and ankles.

    We hope these tips have been helpful and have given you ideas that you can incorporate into your daily life.  Do not hesitate to call us and make an appointment.  An in depth one-on-one assessment with one of our physiotherapists will help address your specific needs for injury prevention or management.

    Written by Stephanie Connolly

    Click to visit Pursuit Physiotherapy.


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    National

    New Brunswick government agency offers lessons on how to roll a joint

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  • FREDERICTON — It’s not exactly Cheech and Chong University, but New Brunswick’s government cannabis agency is offering lessons on how to roll a joint.

    The Cannabis NB website includes a “Cannabis 101” section to teach people new to the recreational drug how to prepare it.

    It says to break down your cannabis until it looks like the consistency of oregano — but adds “it should not smell like oregano, however.”

    The instructions — which include pictures — say to “fill the centre of the rolling paper with your ground cannabis and distribute it evenly so that your joint does not resemble a hill, with a bulge in the middle.”

    The website goes on to describe how to shape the joint, and ends with “finish and enjoy.”

    Brian Harriman, president of Cannabis NB, offered his own advice Monday for new users of the drug: Take it slow.

    “It is highly recommended that you start low and go slow with our products. Depending on the consumption method it can take up to two hours to feel the effects. They will impair your motor skills,” he said.

    The website also has some advice if you have a severe reaction to cannabis. It says “don’t panic” and suggests finding some black pepper.

    “Hear us out – scientific research tells us that cannabis and pepper have similar chemical traits. So if you’re experiencing any kind of paranoia or anxiety, try smelling or chewing on a few black peppercorns,” the website suggests.

    It says you could also go for a walk, or have a nap.

    And the website has lots of advice for keeping cannabis fresh. It says don’t overhandle it, and keep it in small containers, but not plastic bags.

    “Plastic bags are full of static and static is no friend of cannabis. The static energy in plastic attracts the delicate trichomes and pulls them away from the flower,” it said.

    And by the way, if you don’t know about trichomes, or other cannabis culture terms, the website includes a list of definitions.

    Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, took a slightly different tack Monday, warning cannabis use can be harmful.

    “Using cannabis under the age of 25 can cause long lasting damage to the brain. Cannabis use by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers can cause health problems for the baby. Cannabis use can cause impairment of drivers,” she said.

    Cannabis NB and its online store will be the only legal place to buy cannabis in New Brunswick. A individual can only have up to 30 grams on their person while outside the home.

    There is no limit on how much cannabis you can have in your house, but it has to be secure and away from children.

    The Cannabis NB website recommends using a vaporizer with oils, but it’s illegal to vape or smoke cannabis in a public place. It can only be consumed at home.

    Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

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  • OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the coming boom in automated vehicles with ripple effects beyond the likeliest victims, internal government documents warn.

    The documents from Employment and Social Development Canada give a glimpse into the ongoing concerns and policy options government officials have wrestled with to help workers whose jobs may be threatened, and young people who are entering the labour force.

    A 2017 presentation predicted automation could kill some 500,000 transportation jobs — from truck drivers to subway operators to taxi drivers and even courier services — as well as more than 600,000 additional jobs such as parking attendants, auto-body repair workers and even police and emergency personnel.

    It warns that retraining some of these workers may be difficult and that jobs they may turn to that require similar skills are also likely to be automated.

    A separate briefing note from earlier this year to the top official at the department said national efforts, some of which may not be within the government’s mandate, will be needed to counteract the negative effects of automation.

    The federal budget in 2017 pledged about $1.8 billion over six years to help pay for expanded skills training programs in provinces and territories to try and keep traditional workers from being left behind in a tech-fuelled economy. It is an issue Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is working on tackling.

    “We’ve seen the challenges and the anxieties that are out there amongst Canadians right across the country and our focus is on making sure that everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed,” Trudeau told a Monday morning meeting of representatives from Canada’s Building Trades Unions.

    Earlier this year the Liberals launched an advertising campaign to educate younger workers about federal programs and services that they can use to help navigate their entry into the workforce. A recent federally-funded opinion survey suggests there isn’t a lot of public awareness about government programs on this front, and recommended the government create an online tool to help workers navigate their ongoing education and training needs

    RBC is launching something along those lines this week, with a focus on the fears young people have landing a first job.

    Those fears are significant in the context of heightened nerves about whether the jobs young people are interested in doing will disappear as the world of work changes, said Mark Beckles, RBC’s senior director of youth strategy.

    “Employers today are hiring for the future and employers are telling us that many of the jobs for which they are hiring, young people are coming out of school without the requisite experience or requisite education,” Beckles said in an interview.

    “The challenge then becomes how do we close that skills gap to ensure that young people can come out of university or college with the right skills and the right experiences to be competitive for those jobs.”

    — Follow @jpress on Twitter.

    Jordan Press, The Canadian Press



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