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Archive for September, 2010

Corporate Wellness – A PT perspective

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I just got back from a 3-day Corporate Wellness Conference put on in Los Angeles, CA by Corporate Wellness Magazine.  I met some interesting people – mostly corporate wellness company execs, along with some insurance brokers and other wellness-related companies.  There was a lot of discussion on the topic of “biometrics”.  Wellness companies are obsessed with monitoring their employees body mass index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.  The idea is that heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cancer are increasing company health care costs.  This was my first time at a wellness event and what I found out is that the term “wellness” is reserved for treating and preventing chronic DISEASE, while the term “health” is used when referring to chronic PAIN.  Now, here is the interesting thing about the corporate wellness people I met – No one recognizes the fact that you cannot separate “wellness” from “health”.  Well, OK, they recognize that the two aspects of health are related, but they simply do not want to deal with it. There is this sort of “that is another department” attitude.

The bottom line is that no employee is going to have the motivation, drive or willpower to eat right and exercise if they are in pain. In order to reduce and manage the incidents of diabetes, heart problems, stroke and most cancers, employees need to get more active, lose weight and eat right. But sticking to an exercise program and staying away from the chocolate bar in the vending machine takes energy and persistence.  If you have headaches, neck pain, back pain or knee pain from the work that you do, it will be unlikely that you will have it in you to participate fulling in a corporate wellness program.

From my PT perspective – working with patients everyday who complain about pain that is work-related – the first step is to make sure employees are comfortable at their desks and on their feet. Then you can focus on wellness issues.  A company that combines both wellness and health initiatives in the workplace and makes sure that both facets of employee well being work together, will have better benefits all around. Not only will health care costs be reduced, but so will absences.  There will be an increase in productivity, presenteeism and morale. Everybody wins!

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Back to school or work resolutions aim to decrease stress and pain at your computer

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The Back to School time of year is here again and with it comes  feelings of renewal and promise.  For me, back to school is even better than New Year’s for setting resolutions.  Something about returning to a regular schedule demands refocus and stimulates change.  The goals of Back to School resolutions are to recapture (or maintain) those feelings of lightness, calm and relaxation you experience during your summer vacation.  Come September, you may not be able to push the pause button on stress as you did on vacation, but you can make changes that will decrease the aches and pains of desk work, improve your mood and energy and make you less desperate for your next vacation.

Here are some of my favorite back to work resolutions (try one or two and see how great you will feel):

1.  Learn how to type properly.

If you have to look down at the keys in order to type at your computer, you are putting excessive strain on your neck joints and are at risk for a disc herniation.
Try free online typing classes at GoodTyping.com

2.  Schedule a daily “No Screen Time”.

This means no computers, no TV and no video games for a set period of time every day. I recommend 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. as an ideal time to escape from technology. This policy will help you have less pain and stress, as well as be more active and relaxed – all in the middle of a work week.

3.  Take more mini-breaks at work.

A study on data entry operators found that several short, 5-minute breaks were more effective at decreasing discomfort than a traditional break schedule.  I recommend downloading the RSI Guard Computer Rest Program onto your computer. It will tell you when it is time to take micro-breaks, remind you to stay relaxed and show you desk stretches during longer break periods.

4.  Get some form of physical activity during your work day.

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina calls exercise “cognitive candy”.  I love that!
Try a brisk 10-minute walk during a meeting with a coworker, a game of basketball during lunch, 20 minutes of upper body weights while on a conference call… Whatever your preference and however you can fit it in, exercising at work can stimulate creativity, help you solve a problem and improve energy and productivity.

5.  Drink more water at work.

Why? Because staying hydrated will decrease headaches, help you lose weight and give you a good reason to get up from your desk and move around (to re-fill your glass or use the restroom).

Make healthy choices now and you won’t even need to make a New Year’s Resolution later!

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