6226 3632Clinics

Office Ergonomics or the lack of it.

A large number of people who seek medical help for their musculoskeletal problems usually present with neck, shoulder and back pains. These clients are often deskbound at work and with the increase use of computers, it is no wonder the incidence of spinal pains is on the rise.

The repetitive stress associated with our work environment can be minimized with an understanding of the flaws of mass produced furniture, combine with a little effort and common sense in altering and re-organizing our work station.  Below are some of the complaints most office workers express.
x
When I work at the desk, my shoulder muscles become tight and achy.  I have a huge knot in my shoulder muscles.  Get a sore neck at the end of the day.

Most tables and work benches are made far too tall for our Asian build as the parts to the furniture are cut to Anglo-Saxon fit.  Most table height are at 75m to 80cm high, were as 69 cm is more appropriate for Asians.  This means that for the majority in Singapore, people are working with their arms elevated and stretched forward, leading to an overuse and constant activation of their Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapulae. These two muscles are designed to be movers – to raise the shoulders or to pull the head back to the centre.  They perform very poorly when tasked to doing activities that require muscle endurance like elevating the arm up constantly as demanded by the current work station design. The result is the development of trigger points and tightness in these muscles, consequently increasing the compression in the cervical spine leading to pain.

I have been told to sit into the back of the chair to improve my posture at work, but as much as I try, I always end up sitting on the edge of the seat.  It just feels more comfortable.

Most chairs used by office workers are regular non-ergonomic chairs.  Similar to the issue above, unless it is an ergonomically designed chair, the office chairs are designed very poorly for the Asian population. 

Firstly, seat depth.  The median thigh length of a Hong Kong Chinese male is 550mm and that of a British Caucasian male  is 595mm. The difference between the two ethnic groups is significant. Unless the depth of mass produced chairs are made adjustable there will be many people whom the chairs do not fit.  In Singapore, most chairs are too deep.  One should be able to sit all the way into the back of the chair and have a gap of 2-3inches between the edge of the seat pan and the back of one’s knees. Failing this, the user will sit forward and away from the back rest, resulting in the loss of the lumbar support and promoting slouch sitting. If the user maintains sitting into the back of an oversized chair, he or she will have to work with out-stretched arms.  This will eventually lead to an overuse in the muscles around the shoulders.

Secondly, fixed arm rest. One of the commonest issues with arm rest is that most are not adjustable. Arm rests often get in the way when the user draws the chair closer towards the work station, limiting how close the user can get to table without losing her back support. To counter this, the user either stretches out her arm causing a flexion in the upper thoracic spine and consequently a forward head posture or move away from the back support.  If purchasing an ergonomic chair is out of the question, and the current arm rests are not adjustable, it is better to not have it. In my opinion, I feel it is better to discard the arm rests and draw the chair in close and have the arms rested on the table.

Lastly, feet support.  Ideally, the table top should be at the same level as the elbows. To achieve this, more often than not, the height of the chair will have to be raised.  As tables are already made too high and Singaporeans being generally petite, the combination of raising the height of the chair of a chair that is already too deep result in the feet not being fully supported. The lack of support forces the abdominals work.  As it is uncomfortable, the user will naturally slide forward.  Therefore a foot stool must be used if the chair does not have a foot rest.

After working on the laptop for an hour, I get headaches and neck pains.  However, if I use the desk top, I seem to be able to work longer without discomfort.

The use of laptops for work is widespread. However, the screens on laptops are too low without having the head in a forward position. In the head forward position, the upper cervical is in extension and C1-3 are compressed.  As C1-3 refer pain to various parts of the head, clients can perceive the pains as headaches. Ideally, the first line of the computer screen should be at eye level and this is easily solved by using a laptop riser that can be purchased from computer shops.  It must be noted that typing on the keyboard that is in the incline position can result in carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist pains. We recommend that clients purchase and use a separate keyboard to minimize injuries to the wrist.

Along with the low screen, the keyboard on the laptop is smaller than a standard keyboard. With a smaller keyboard, the user’s shoulders are protracted and adducted, leading to future risk of injury to the shoulders and neck. Ironically, manufacturers are now reducing the size of laptops aggravating the situation further.

Contentious issues

There are some contentious issues with some of the ergonomic guidelines. One such issue is the hip angle of the user.  It is now recommended that the hip angle should not be at 90 degrees, but between 110-130 degrees. This is because it is found that the discal pressure in the lower back reduces as the hip angle increases, which follows that ideally that the chair should be adjusted such that a hip angle of 130 degrees is achieved. However, in that angle the cervical spine has to flex forward for it to be in an upright position thus affecting the superficial cervical flexors like the sternocleidomastiod muscle. It also increases loading at C6-T1 level.  Both these factors can lead to cervical pains.  Therefore, in the case where chairs are without head rests, perhaps the user should adjust the hip angle to 110 degrees. If head rests are available 130 degree hip angle is fine as the head is completely supported.  Another point to note is the user’s primary complaint.  If the main problem is in the cervical spine, positioning the hip angle at 110 degrees is preferred.

Another issue of contention is the use of a tray table for the keyboard.  Some would argue that a tray table is essential and that keyboard should never be placed on the table.  The rational for this argument comes from having the shoulders dropped and relaxed while working as most table tops are too high.  However, the drawback with the tray table is the lack of room for the mouse.  The mouse should always be placed right next to the keyboard to minimize out stretching of the arm.

In essence, although ergonomics is about maintaining the ideal body posture while we work, this should be achieved with as little physical effort as possible. How this is done is open to one’s creativity and presenting situation and environment. Ergonomics is very personal, the guidelines are readily available but there are no hard and fast rules. Adopt them only if it feels right for you.

Recent Videos

Tone Up With Sanctband Singapore: Resistive Tubing Exercise
Tone Up With Sanctband Singapore: Mini Gym Ball Exercises
Tone Up With Sanctband Singapore: Resistive Exercise Band
Have you tried Facilitated Stretch Therapy?
The Effects of Mobile Devices – The Better Way To Use Your Phone
The Effects of Mobile Devices on Posture
resistive tubing
mini gym ball exercises
resistance band
Have you tried Facilitated Stretch Therapy?
mobile
mobile

50 Popular Articles That You May Find Interesting


Very professional and caring Therapists. My left foot has been hurting for a month. After 3 sessions, 80% of the pain is gone. I just need one more session and I think I should be fine. Thank you very much.
Theressa Lim
Theressa Lim
I had an excellent sports massage by Wan Ling, which was very different from the usual massage I've tried elsewhere. Wan Ling skillfully and systematically loosened every muscle in my upper back and neck over the course of an hour. If anyone is seeking relief from tense muscles, I would highly recommend making an appointment with Wan Ling.
Rebecca Lim
Rebecca Lim
Came to see Xue Ting with a broken shoulder for the last 6 weeks and was impressed with her attentiveness and ability to make me feel me feel comforted in my condition . Very dedicated and good therapist indeed .
Janet Koh
Janet Koh
They adopt a scientific and personal approach. The therapists put in a lot of effort to diagnose the issue before attending to it. Overall, I would strongly recommend their professionalism and methods.
Varun Sharma
Varun Sharma
Really good sports massage! Booking process was efficient too :)
Charmaine Miranda
Charmaine Miranda
Friendly and really professional service! I immediately felt welcomed the moment I stepped into the clinic! The physio offered me great advice beyond what I had asked, which allowed me to have a deeper understanding as to why I had my issue in the first place. With this kind of service, I would honestly recommend this physio if you are serious about getting better.
Jimmy Allen Poh
Jimmy Allen Poh
Thoughtful and sincere service. Highly recommended!
Benedict Koh
Benedict Koh
My mum received her first Apos treatment. We intend to continue until her hip muscles become strong. We believe in the treatment as we saw how amazing it was. The idea was simple. Really love that she can be herself again, for long term. The hip and knee cap operations offers 15yrs. Hence we reject the cost and short-life. My wish is that the treatment cost can be lowered and more are aware of this treatment. God bless and thank you team.
Victoria Soh
Victoria Soh
Look for Soo, he is a great physiotherapist . Always communicating and always asking for my feedback. I’m on the right path to recovery all thanks to Soo. Two thumbs up.
Daniel Wang
Daniel Wang
Xue Ting has been working on my troublesome QL, hip girdle - basically the whole left lower kinetic chain! She has been patient, strong and cerebral in her approach to my 48 year old compensatory mechanisms. Her strong massage will finish with an assessment of muscle imbalance and poor activation with finally a retraining back to healthy movement.I’m impressed! Thanks Core Concepts!
Brett McLaren
Brett McLaren
I went from barely understanding physical therapy for injuries, to highly recommending Core Concepts to friends and family for their aches and pains. Ken was knowledgeable, patient and explained symptoms and consequences in a simple, relatable manner. I hope more people will come to understand how physio is a much better alternative to short-term painkillers.
Manda Misso
Manda Misso
Ken is really amazing!
Terry Tan
Terry Tan
The physiotherapist here explained the problem very well and provided me with exercises that helped improved my condition.
Ferdinand Mar
Ferdinand Mar
I have been experiencing great pain on my shoulder coupled with occasional numbness on my arm. Thanks to Ken Liew, I felt so much relieved after my first session. He was very patient and knowledgeable and had definitely made my 1st visit to a physiotherapy clinic a very memorable one. Thank you so much Ken
Bee Choo Gian
Bee Choo Gian
I have been experiencing knee pains lately especially walking up and down the stairs. The pain was so bad that I was very concern. I chanced upon CoreConcept on FB and book an appointment with them at Camden Medical Centre. My therapist was Ken Liew, he is very professional and knowledgeable. He did a thorough job to assess my condition. To my surprise I felt immediate relieved on my knee after the first session with him! Amazing! Looking forward to my next session. 😊
Sandy Toh CH
Sandy Toh CH
Hi I am Sally and I am in my late sixties. I have endured a year of thigh(joint) pains and thought that it must be due to old age. Visited Core Concepts at Novena and after only 2 sessions, my condition improved so much that I was able to climb stairs easily again. THANKS to my Physiotherapist Samuel Ong who is extremely polite, professional and knowledgeable.
Shino Tutu
Shino Tutu
I have had several sports related injuries and Core Concepts has saved me and put me "back to new" each times! The therapists are excellent - knowledgeable and professional, and the receptionists (Carol, Adiqah and Rin) are always friendly and helpful. They even give me oreo cookies for my children! :)
Paola Venturini Hubert
Paola Venturini Hubert
Highly recommended for sports massage
Simon Ray
Simon Ray
Extremely friendly staff and therapists! Folks Novena Square are just simply smiley and happy. Coming here towards the end of the work day always brings up my mood. Therapist and coach are fabulous. My condition improve so much that I can even start to train up some of my predominately unrealized problems. Highly recommended!
Von Ling Wei Hao
Von Ling Wei Hao
I go to Novena and Cheryl is my therapist. She was upfront from the get go about my neck condition. I liked her honesty and said we'll give it a try. I was better after 4 weekly sessions and continued to go to her every 2 weeks. With her help I am in a better condition, had to put in effort on the exercises she taught me as well.
Tania Chevrez
Tania Chevrez
Li Hoong is a very dedicated sports massage therapist and functional trainer. Her ultimate goal is the client's holistic well-being. Highly recommend.
Pei Yee Wong
Pei Yee Wong
i have tried different physiotherapy sessions with almost 10 physiotherapists in india and in Singapore, my back pain was treated well by CHERYLL, with God's grace , i was pain free only after Cheryll attended to me. Thank you Cheryll and core concepts for the great experience.
Madiha Sadiq
Madiha Sadiq
I am working with Yiren on my knee after my ACL/MCL reconstruction and recovery has been good! He does a thorough job to assess my progress each session and challenges me to push myself to get to various milestones. He's extremely friendly and helpful despite my many questions. Thanks!
Yingling Huang
Yingling Huang
After many different physio and massage sessions in different places, my experience with the core concepts team has been the best. I started seeing them for sports massage, and now for my knee rehab. The level of care and attention makes me want to do more for myself. Isn't this most important when one tend to slack off with the prescribed exercises?
YitKoon Gan
YitKoon Gan
Very friendly and professional physiotherapist as well as receptionists within the clinic. Dr. Issac Wong is easy to approach and came up with alternative ways for me to strengthen my weak thigh muscles and it really helped in reducing my knee pain! Thanks :)
Sam Costanza
Sam Costanza
The best physiotherapist ever. Cheryl is really good. Doesn't shortchange me of time and make sure I feel better before she lets me go. The front desk staff are great too. Very accomodating and friendly. Thank you Carol and Farrah. Only thing if they can give instructions to how to go to their place will be great. Usually only unit number but do give some details like mrt exits and directions to lift and such will be excellent. Coz I almost got lost in 2 different places. Overall still love core concept because of Cheryl! Thank you Cheryl!!
Jeanette Goh
Jeanette Goh
Found out about Core Concepts last year through social media and made an appointment as i was experiencing some neck and shoulder discomfort after a traffic accident. My therapist was evidently experienced and was able to pinpoint the cause of my aches. The one thing i loved about my experience at Core Concepts is that they are not like typical physiotherapists who simply prescribe take home exercises, instead my therapist was extremely hands on, helping me to massage my neck at the right spots to relief the stiffness - best massage ever! Would highly recommend Core Concepts!!
Claire Chia
Claire Chia
Easily the best physio clinic I've been to.
Natarajan Baradwaj
Natarajan Baradwaj
The only physio clinic i trust! A unique approach to treating pains, you simply have to try it out for yourself. Have recommended many friends and family and core concepts has not disappointed. Thumbs up!!!
Claire Chia
Claire Chia
From the reception to the therapist, they are friendly and nice. I was taught on a 2 steps stretching to strengthen my leg muscles that I can do it myself daily and It did help :) Will recommend to anyone who wish to have therapy sessions.
Jaz
Jaz
Knowledgeable and brilliant!
Brenda Chong
Brenda Chong
-emails with advertisement and birthday wishes came, but they didn't think that their customer (with 4/10 sessions remaining in his package) would have expected a reminder of ANY kind if his package was already expiring. I asked the clerk from my last visit how many sessions I had remaining, and she told me 4, with no update on the expiry at all. -assumed I wanted a physiotherapy (PT) appointment when my past SMS have always been for sports massage (SM); whenever I asked for "available slots", they would give me the slots for SM. yet they suddenly gave me the list of available slots for PT ytd. I'm also to blame for not verifying and reading their long SMS carefully.-their masseuse is very good though, skilful and respectful. They ask important questions to understand their client before starting on the SM. I'd still return even though the administrative process is lacking.
Beale Liu JieXiong
Beale Liu JieXiong
BOOK A PHYSIOTHERAPY APPOINTMENT

You can easily request for a physiotherapy or fitness appointment through any of the 3 convenient ways below with your preferred date, time and clinic location. Our staff will be happy to help allocate you to the first available appointment slot that best fits your convenience.

Home
via Telephone

Call our central-line at
+65 6226 3632

Home
via SMS

SMS your name, preferred date, time and clinic location to +65 9232 2661

Home
via Email or Online Form

Email your preferred physiotherapy appointment slot to enquiry@coreconcepts.com.sg or






Physiotherapy & Functional Wellness