Massage therapy has long been used in the corporate setting as a component of employee wellness programs. Improper ergonomics and overuse injuries can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, strained ligaments and painful muscles. Researchers have just announced a new tool in the battle for healthy workers.

A multidisciplinary team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has developed a new training method using a desktop webcam to improve ergonomic posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders among office workers using computers.

A group of 60 workers received both office training and an automatic frequent-feedback system that displayed a webcam photo of a worker’s current sitting posture alongside the correct posture photo taken during office training, according to a press release.

The results showed that both training methods provided effective short-term posture improvement; however, sustained improvement was only attained with the photo-training method, according to the press release. Both interventions had a greater effect on older workers and on workers suffering more musculoskeletal pain. The photo-training method had a greater positive effect on women than on men.

In light of the differences in effect between men and women, combining supplementary feedback targeted to different audiences should be considered, the researchers noted. “For example, it is recommended to consider adding more detailed feedback that would call attention to deviations from the desired pose for each of the body segments, and evaluate its deferential effect on both genders over the long term.”

The research was reported in an article that ran in Applied Ergonomics.

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