Expert suggests ergonomic assessment to be healthy at home

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Ergonomics is fitting the task to the person not the person to the task. We pay a lot of attention to repetitive stress injuries at work, but experts say we're ignoring what we do at home.

Experts said the path to a pain-free body begins at home.

Lunona Burton used to watch television from an unhealthy position. Her screen wasn't eye level and her sofa was too low. The combination added to her neck and back pain.

"I had to have cervical and lumbar surgery," Burton said.

She also had to have surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

"This pain was no joke, and I don't want to experience it again," she said.

Kaiser Permanente Ergonomics specialist Valentina Sendin helped Burton fix her workplace, but she said many people don't realize ergonomics needs to be taken seriously everywhere, especially at home.

"If you want to be safe in your home, you want to make changes to keep your body healthy," Sedin said.

The first thing Sendin recommended to Burton was to switch out her standard 15-inch tall toilet to a 19-inch one.

"And it really took a lot of the pressure off my knees," Burton said.

Sendin said most injuries occur in the bathroom. People brush their teeth two or three times a day. The constant twisting and flexing can be difficult, especially if you have wrist pain like Burton.

"We changed it out to an electric toothbrush so that the brush was actually doing the work," Sendin said.

The fewer faucet knobs you have to twist, the better. Burton switched to levers and all her soaps and lotions are pumps. She doesn't even have to flip a switch for the lights because she installed automatic lights.

In the kitchen, her everyday utensils are within reach. Sendin suggested an important tip for anyone who does a lot of chopping.

"Keeping your knives sharp will also reduce the amount of effort required to cut," she said.

Also, opt for a hands-free trash can.

"All you have to do is step on the pedal," Burton said.

In the laundry room, a raised work area means no more stooping, and getting Burton's adorable doggie into bed at night meant a lot of lifting, so Burton bought her puppy steps.

"So I don't have to lift her because my bed is kind of high," she said.

Her couch is high as well. It helps Burton stay seated at a 90-degree angle, which her back appreciates.

"I don't have any aches and pains," she said.

Sendin recommends everyone get a home ergonomic assessment because the longer you wait, the harder it is on your body.

"The object of ergonomics is that the tools work for us, not us work for the tools," Sendin said. "It's fitting the job or the task to the individual versus the individual trying to fit the task."
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