It’s easy to keep ergonomics in mind when you’re in the workplace, with daily reminders or posted signs promoting proper lifting techniques. We spend most of our lives outside of work (if you’re lucky enough) so it’s important to reduce our own daily risk exposures. As an ergonomist, I’ve often heard how clients improved their own personal spaces at home. For example, one client rearranged his garage to keep heavy items in the Comfort Zone!
I recently applied ergonomics during a leisure activity when I started rock climbing. If you’ve ever been climbing, or more specifically belaying (using a rope system to protect a climber in the event of a fall), you’ve probably experienced the neck discomfort that comes from looking up for long periods of time.
Until recently, I believed “belayer’s neck” was something I’d have to live with if I continued this new-found sport. While observing more experienced climbers, I noticed they wore special glasses to maintain neutral neck postures during their activities. The prismatic lenses in the glasses bend the light so that what you see looking up is now in front of you; you can look straight ahead, with a neutral neck posture, and still keep an eye on the climber above you.
I wasn’t sure how well they’d work but gave them a shot. I was impressed! My neck was virtually pain-free from the activity. So, keep looking for ways to improve ergonomics—both at and outside of work!