One look at an office worker sitting at their desk is all it takes for Cindy Groves and Lora Plude to know where that worker hurts at night.

One look at an office worker sitting at their desk is all it takes for Cindy Groves and Lora Plude to know where that worker hurts at night.

Groves and Plude are certified occupational health nurses. As part of their jobs at Beloit Memorial Hospital’s occupational health centers, they treat office workers who most often are in pain from musculoskeletal injuries to the neck, elbows, shoulders and lower back. For nearly 15 years, they also have taught seminar classes on computer terminal fitness designed to keep others off the injured list.

Their next seminar is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at the hospital’s Occupational Health and Sports Medicine Center, 1650 Lee Lane.

“It’s easy for us to walk into a place and look at a work station and know why you hurt because you have this, this and this,” said Groves, the clinical manager for outreach services for the hospital’s Outreach and Occupational Health Centers. “We can tell where they hurt. We might ask someone does your right shoulder bother you at the end of the day, and they will answer, ‘Yeah, how did you know?’ ”

Plude, who leads the seminar sessions, said workers often are set up for injury because of such things as office furniture chosen without thinking about the employees’ individual sizes, the design and arrangement of furniture, adjustability of the office chair, how to arrange items at the work station, orientation of employees about how to adjust furniture, and the employees’ failure to think to adjust furniture as needed.

“The class teaches an awareness of looking at body posture, sitting straight and having the good posture that your mother told you about,” Plude said. “The thing that you’re dealing with most in the day should be straight in front of you. Your chair should be arranged so that your feet are on the floor and you’re approaching your keyboard at a straight angle.

“Your body should be in neutral position. That’s the strongest and most comfortable for you.”

Plude described neutral position as being able to sit up straight with the head, neck and back in line and the back supported against the chair. Hips, elbows and knees should be at 90-degree angles to the spine.

“A lot of people also end up cradling their phone on their shoulder,” Plude said. “That takes their head out of that straight posture, too. So we give some awareness that, if you’re on the phone a lot, you may have to get a headset so you don’t have to do that awkward posture.”

The classes also cover stretches such as rolling shoulders forward and backward to fight shoulder fatigue, and alternately making fists and spreading the fingers out wide to avoid finger and wrist problems.

“We also talk about getting out of your chair during the day and not just staying put for four hours or eight hours straight,” Groves said. “You need to get that blood flowing and get away from that static posture — maybe by standing up to take a phone call or making it a point to take a few breaks and change your position.”

Groves said she and Plude also do seminars at offices which gives them an opportunity to do such things as bring in a chair from the worksite.

“Body awareness is the most important thing for people to learn in the class. Most people don’t realize about all the buttons and knobs that are under their chair to make them more comfortable. They think it’s like that, and they’re stuck with it.

“People end up in a work station and they’re just kind of crammed in there. They need to go back to basics and figure out how to make the most ergonomically of their work space so that they go home without aches and pains at the end of the day.”

Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or mdedoncker@rrstar.com.

Computer fitness seminar
Where: Beloit Memorial Hospital’s Occupational Health and Sports Medicine Center, 1650 Lee Lane, Beloit, Wis.
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26
Registration fee; $49 per person includes lunch
Next seminar: Thursday, Oct. 29
More information or to arrange worksite seminar: Call (608) 364-4666 or (608) 828-9015