NSC Labor Division news Ergonomics Research/studies Musculoskeletal disorders

Doing this may help prevent repetitive-motion muscle fatigue

Photo: University of Alberta

Calgary, Alberta — Workers performing repetitive manual tasks can avoid muscle fatigue by taking short breaks every 10 minutes, researchers say.

A team from the University of Alberta asked nine participants to lift and move 16-pound boxes during a series of work-rest schedules. The researchers used sensors to measure body movement as well as electrical signals generated by muscles.

Findings show that stopping to stretch or rest for no longer than a minute every 10 minutes could limit muscle fatigue and workers’ risk for musculoskeletal injury. When the participants took “micro-breaks,” they were more likely to practice proper posture over time.

“We observed a significant reduction in muscle fatigue between the different work-rest schedules,” lead study author Karla Beltran, a mechanical engineering master’s student at the university, said in a press release. “Taking small breaks during a work shift can significantly reduce muscle fatigue and potentially reduce its consequent risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders without negatively affecting productivity.”

The study was published online in the journal Sensors.

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