Role of Physiotherapy in Ergonomics


According to OSHA “designing the job to fit the workers, instead of forcing the worker to fit the job”


Ergonomics derived from two Greek words “ergon” means work and “nomos” means laws. It is also called the science of work: “the interaction between the environment of work and the worker.”

Importance of ergonomics

Do you feel tightness in back, shoulder and neck muscles or fatigue by the end of the day?

Habits like keeping your head too high or down too much, sleeping with a pillow or mattress which is not suitable for back support, wearing high heels or tight clothes, cradling the phone or slouching in a chair can create painful conditions. Ergonomics help to minimize the exposure to work hazards which is a physical factor to disturb body mechanics. So it is important to understand that ergonomics is not suitable in all circumstances

Classification of ergonomics

  1. Physical
  2. Cognitive
  3. Organizational

Physical Ergonomics

The most important type which is mainly focused on workplace ergonomics. It is related to human anatomical, anthropometric biomechanical and physiological characteristics associated with their physical activity and focuses on the way through which a human’s body interacts with tools used in daily life activities. For example tools like desk, chair, keyboard, or for construction purposes in conditions of repetitive movements, posture and musculoskeletal related injuries


It is the mind’s activity to process information (perception, memory, emotions or reasoning) and interaction with data. It includes decision making, skilled performance, human- computer interaction, attitude and motivation.


The third type which is organizational ergonomics is related to social technical systems including structures, policies and processes of organization. It is a way to optimize the entire workplace e.g optimize team work, improve communication, work design, and working time patterns.

Advantages of ergonomics

  • Cost effective
  • Reduce fatigue and other work related decrease injury rates
  • Alleviate pain
  • Increase productivity and business quality
  • Interest development
  • Strong and better work culture
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Increase comfort




Ergonomics Risk Factors

  • Posture changes

with the passage of time body develop bad posture with poor ergonomics setup, ultimately these changes in posture can lead to muscle strain or nerve compression type injuries

  • Limited range of motion (ROM)

Load in increase in joints due to degenerative changes or injuries which restrict the movement and also affect the muscle and tendon surrounding the joints because of poor biomechanics.

  • Decrease endurance

Decrease in endurance leads to quickly fatigue and causes a person to feel tired and may experience a lack of energy.

  • Physical disabilities

Permanent disability like muscular dystrophy, amputation, stroke, and other musculoskeletal injuries limits the patient’s mobility and cause muscle weakness.

Role of physiotherapist in ergonomics

Physiotherapists help to reduce risk factors by analyzing the posture and movements during work either in a job, home or any clinical setups. A physiotherapist evaluates a person’s capacity to perform work through functional abilities evaluation (FAE) or functional capacity evaluation (FCE), it compares health status, function and structure to demand of job. FCE used to measure the strength, postural imbalance, fatigue level and range of motion.

Ergonomics for Children

Sitting in a good posture prevents the back muscles strain which is achieved only through an adjustable chair and table. In this case “mandal” recommend that a chair at least one third the height of person and table at least one half the height of person.

For the design of a school bag, the back of the bag should be firm and padded and the level of the bag should be adjusted to the back of the child. The straps of the bag should be padded and adjustable. The bag handles should be smooth and comfort without any rough or sharp angles.

A good work place is the one that allow all participants of that place to sit with neck straight, back supported with shoulder relaxed, and arms close to the body or supported for extended work, forearm shouldn’t be rotated, feet should be supported on floor

Ergonomics for Aging

Physiotherapists can guide in planning the ergonomic intervention to maintain an injury free productive work environment.

In this purpose, ErgoPlus describe some basic ergonomic principles:

  • Work in neutral position: it reduce the stress and strain from muscle
  • Posture changes: sitting for a prolonged period in the same posture causes muscle pain. So there should be some task or place to change the positions.
  • Power zone (hand shake zone) : work in power zone decrease risk of injuries and increase productivity of work
  • Provide quality light
  • Provide Power grip: provide power grip instead of pinch grip help in aging workers.