28 Jun 2012

Obesity in the Workplace

Hi folks,

A topic in the media this week was obesity in the workplace, and as it’s a bit controversial it thought it may be fun to tackle it! So, is being obese at work a disadvantage?

Let’s discuss the mental side first. If someone is overweight this can often send out certain messages, common conceptions, presumptions and strongly affect first impressions. These might be poor health, low energy levels, low confidence / self-esteem, lack of determination or control – right or wrong these are not really traits that an employer would look for in a successful employee. Some of these might not necessarily be true & that person may be just as capable as the next person but physical appearances are very powerful in today’s society. It should also be mentioned that many people find it harder to control their weight due to certain medical conditions.

Right then, the physical side. This all depends on the physical demands of the job linked with health and safety. We employ someone on their suitability to do a job so if they can’t do that job well (for whatever reason) then someone else may be better suited. On the flip-side, if the job role isn’t going to be affected by their physical capabilities or related affects then yes, that person should be an equal contender for the job / promotion.

Whether someone is happy to be obese or not, ultimately it is related to excess calorie consumption which they control. A person’s size is a fact about them & so shouldn’t it hold the same weight (pardon the pun) as any other facts such as their qualifications or experience? From reading this blog back, it seems like I’m fat’ist, but I have nothing against obese people at all, I’m just trying to clarify the topic. With obesity on the rise many people aren’t taking responsibility for themselves and from all views it has needlessly become a taboo subject in workplace politics.

With the risk of hate-mail, I’d be very interested on your opinions.


21 Jun 2012

Neck pain! Work-related or Work-relevant?

Hi folks,

Through my experience neck tension is one of the most common complaints in the workplace. Do you get that hunched tight feeling too? Most of us blame our jobs for it, the posture we're in whilst working, coupled with the build up of stress. Some jobs may directly lend themselves to cause such neck pain / tension (work related pain) but many may just be a trigger. By this I mean that the actual tension could be building up from other elements of our lifestyle but because we experience the on-set at work, we blame work (work-relevant pain).

So lets take a look at what the possible causes could be:

1. Your commute? do you have a stressful journey? are you in a head-down position using mobile technology?

2. Your sleeping position? many of us sleep on our sides so be sure to have at least 2 plump pillows to keep your neck in line with your spine. All other positions only really require 1.

3. Your hobbies / activities? Musicians, cyclists, golfers & in-fact any activity where we are dominant with once side or have to maintain a poor posture. 

4. Emotional stress? Arguements at home, financial worries, family fallouts, kids driving you mad, moving house? Many of us store this type of stress physically in our mid / upper back region.

5. 'Forward hand' activities? Research shows that neck tension is likely caused by tension in your upper back muscles working to hold your hands forwards. The longer & the further away from our body the hands work, the more tension can build up. Yes, this is pretty much everything we do! One way to ease this is by supporting the elbow / forearm at natural (waist) height.

In summary, if you suffer from neck tension then address your working posture but also address your activities outside of work. However the most effective way of releasing this tension is through one of my massages!



14 Jun 2012

NEW Tension Release service!!

Hi folks,

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the benefits of massage, so much so that I run Hull's premier massage service. Today we have launched our new website:

If you're new to massage or already have regular treatments, explore our video's & testimonials to see exactly how we can help both you & your workforce increase performance whilst preventing injury. 

Thanks & your feedback is most welcome!


8 Jun 2012

Healthily British

Hi folks,

Well, the most 'British' week I've ever witnessed is almost over, did you get in to the spirit of things? I thought that the Jubilee may just involve a few tacky Union hats & maybe some cake stalls in village halls but i was drastically wrong. I think it really hit home when i saw the coverage of the Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace & the amount of effort people had made around the country. The British public seemed to ooze relentless enthusiasm from start to finish & there was a great atmosphere. This got me thinking, for normally such a cynical lot, what was it that made us have that 'one big family' feel, & furthermore what huge health benefits would it bring if we could create this in the workplace?

1. We are all members of a world famous club - We are British! Just like any other club (football supporters, mother & baby club, running club) a sense of belonging gives us confidence. If your company represents something to be proud of then get the workforce enthused / engaged by it!

2. Us Brits all have similar lifestyles, values & priorities which gives us something in common. This is fantastic for breaking down barriers to increase social interaction / communication (a crowd of 1000's of strangers became 1 tribe). Why not look at the dynamics of your workforce or run social events, they all have something in common - they work for your company!

3. Why we're most people so happy? because they got something of value ....an extra day off! This means a lot to people as time is the most valuable gift to most people as they can spend it how they wish. But as an employer, a day off may be costly, what about giving something that has no cost to you but huge value to your workforce? e.g canteen vouchers, high street vouchers from you corporate links / benefit schemes, charity activities.

So whats the benefit of creating a company 'family feel'? Well it just so happens that this ticks all the psychosocial boxes found by the latest research studies to be absolutely vital for good workforce health.  Plus besides the subsequent health benefits, they are more likely to work harder for you! Wouldn't you 'go that extra mile' for you're family?

Now go out in the rain & wave that Union Jack!


1 Jun 2012

Is mobile technology reversing human evolution?

Hi folks,

How amazing is mobile technology these days? You can check emails on-the-go, have a video meeting with people even though you’re on different streets around the world, or even navigate your way through a busy city by linking up with a satellite!

Do you have a tablet (e.g. iPad)? If not I know we all have mobile phones that can do most of these tasks. As well as being great for social reasons, this technology has become really useful in the business environment, it means that we can be really efficient & get work done without being tied to the desk. Mobile technology has transformed many workplaces but have you realized the down-side?

As we no longer need to be desk-based to complete much of our work, this is a great step towards fighting the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. However, next time you’re walking down the street, on a train, in a meeting, or stuck in a traffic jam, take a look around & most people will be head-down using their own piece of mobile technology. Isn’t this the type of posture that we have at our desks - rounded shoulders & forward –head posture, & hunched over like a caveman?

With us now potentially spending more & more time in a poor posture with our spine out of neutral alignment, the health implications become higher risk. If we do need computers to do our job then a mix of the two may be best practice:

1)      Going back to a desk-top style computer is the best option in the workplace (although being seated this allows you to have the screen higher than the keyboard – unlike laptops).

2)      Get out & about as much as you can using a tablet to work on (although bad for upper-body posture, the lower body is moving which can fight many of the sedentary risks).

So where do laptops fit in? Well at the minute they are ergonomically the worst piece of mobile technology to use. BUT if you can get your hands on a model that has the ability to raise the screen up away from the keyboard then that’s probably the ultimate option! Does anyone know if a laptop like this exists?

Have a think about the demands of your job & which is the most ‘posturally healthy’ kit or combination you can use. If you are an employer, think about what technology is already being used & could it be affecting your workforce health?