Study your ergonomics

By Nancy Lo

You might be one of the one million Americans suffering from back, neck, or wrist pain from poor ergonomics if you regularly spend hours hunched in front of a computer screen and furiously typing, according to Dr. Sarah Van Orman, director of the Student Care Center (SCC).

The Peer Health Educators (PHE) will be holding two “Ergonomics and Fitness” displays to teach students better working positions and sports-related movements. Both events will be held on Tuesday, May 10, the first from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Hutchinson Courtyard, and the second from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Regenstein Library lobby. Students can try out mini-work stations that demonstrate healthier ergonomic methods, find out about proper backpacking practices, and learn athletic tips, such as fitness and shoe choice suggestions, at the PHE table.

In the 2004-2005 Student Health Assessment Survey, 30 percent of students reported back pain in the past 12 months. “Experience with regular back pain used to be an aliment of 40 to 50 year olds, but today is progressively moving into those 30 years old and under,” said Kelley Carameli, health education specialist at the SCC. “The concern is that once regular back pain begins, especially at early life stages, it is often non-reversible and simply becomes a chronic pain that people learn to live with.”

“The main problems we see in students are neck and wrist pain from long hours at a computer, low-back pain from poor posture, and upper back pain from carrying heavy bags,” Van Orman said. “For most students, long hours at a computer are going to be necessary for several years and possibly throughout their entire careers.”