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Education

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

Alberta court hears arguments from both sides of gay-straight alliance law

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MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A group that believes parents should be told when their children join gay-straight alliances at school says Alberta’s law barring teachers from doing that is unsound.

“The legislation is deeply flawed and it fails to protect children,” Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said in Medicine Hat court Wednesday.

The Justice Centre argues that keeping parents out of the loop violates charter rights including freedom of religion and expression. It calls gay-straight alliances “ideological sexual clubs” that make graphic information on gay sex available.

The Alberta government and others have argued that schools shouldn’t inform parents if their children join the peer groups because there is the potential to “out” the students to guardians who may not be accepting.

Schools have until the end of June to file information to the government showing they are complying with the legislation.

Cameron said the faith-based schools that are part of the application to halt the legislation until there’s a ruling on its constitutionality want speedy relief from the law so that they don’t risk losing their funding if they refuse to comply.

He said some teachers and principals couldn’t in good conscience do so.

“It would simply be unjust.”

John Carpenter, a lawyer for the province, said he takes particular issue with the Justice Centre’s characterization of gay-straight alliances as “secret societies.”

“You shall not out children. It’s as simple as that,” he told a Court of Queen’s Bench judge hearing the request for an injunction.

Carpenter said LGBTQ students are particularly vulnerable to bullying, disrespect and abuse and have a suicide rate that’s markedly higher than their peers.

“GSA clubs will help these children, children that I dare say are the children of the applicants in this courtroom.”

A big crowd showed up Wednesday morning for the court challenge. The 50-seat courtroom filled up almost immediately, leaving more than 100 people waiting outside. Many of those attending were wearing buttons that said “Include Parents.”

A handful of people demonstrating outside court in favour of gay-straight alliances carried signs that read: “GSAs Save Lives” and “Stop Your Hate.”

The legal challenge was filed in April in response to the ban passed by Premier Rachel Notley’s government late last year.

Gay-straight alliances are peer support networks organized by students meant to help gay kids feel welcome and to prevent bullying or abuse.

The challenge says parents are alarmed at the “climate of secrecy” the legislation has created.

“The impugned sections of the School Act have stripped parents of the ability to know fully where their children are, who they are involved with and what they may be encouraged to think or do,” it says.

Justice Centre president John Carpay has said teachers and principals should be able to decide whether it’s appropriate to contact parents.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press





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Arts

Collection featuring Group of Seven paintings donated to University of Lethbridge

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess spent a lifetime following her passion.

A lifelong educator and art collector, the Order of Canada recipient bequeathed a collection worth as much as $5 million to the University of Lethbridge following her death at age 100 in 2016. 

The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery received word last year that Hess had donated her vast collection, which includes works from some of the most well-known artists in Canada and from around the world.

University president Mike Mahon knew Hess for eight years prior to her death. He said she created a masters-level scholarship for students at the university and her generosity was well known.

“I’ve seen her generosity in spirit, in volunteerism and in funds over the course of her life,” Mahon said

“I knew she had an amazing art collection partly because when I would have a cup of tea in her living room you’d be surrounded by the Group of Seven and Emily Carr and others hanging on the wall or stacked against a chair.

“She had art everywhere.”

The gallery at the University of Lethbridge, now renamed in her honour, has on display 112 of the 1,140 pieces she donated.

“It’s really exciting. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite. It was hard enough to come up with a selection out of the gift to show this summer,” said assistant curator David Smith.

“What I’ve tried to do is replicate the areas of strength in her collection. More than half of her collection was work by Indigenous artists so more than half the works in this show are Indigenous artists,” he added.

“There’s a selection of Group of Seven works with Tom Thomson and an Emily Carr piece. They’re really great pieces. The Thomson is particularly exciting. A recent guesstimate says there are only about 75 of those panel sketches left in private hands.”

There are about 15 Group of Seven paintings safely behind Plexiglas.

Smith said the remainder of the collection will be displayed in years to come.

Hess, who was the daughter of a lumber magnate, never married and spent her life collecting art and lecturing on it.

She received a doctorate of fine arts from the University of Lethbridge and at one point was a member of the university senate.

“She was very close with A.Y. Jackson. He used to come and stay with her and visit her at her ranch near Cochrane. She’d drive him around to the best spots and they had a really great, lifelong friendship there.”

Also on display until Sept. 7 is an original sketch by Henri Matisse, a print by Pablo Picasso and the art of prominent Indigenous artists, including Alex Janvier, Bill Reid, Tony Hunt, Jessie Oonark and Helen Kalvak.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

 

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


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