I have been using Ergo-Rest arm supports for several months. I got them to test before offering to employees on my site. I immediately liked them, as they take the weight of my arms and thus reduce stress in my upper back, and facilitate straight wrist posture.
But …. might there be a cost?
1) I have experienced some local discomfort in my forearms in the weigh bearing areas, and it seemed to me that it went away after not using the Ergo-Rests.
2) I experienced a sharp pain in my upper arm RIGHT (possibly triceps area) on reaching back to get a map or something in the back seat while in my car. This awkward reach, which I do know is bad, but not uncommon, caused extreme pain and now I find my right arm very sensitive to aggravation of the injury ….. AND interestingly my LEFT arm has a mild discomfort in the same area. Either arm can now easily be tweeked into a sharp pain (playing volleyball, lifting my small child in a slightly awkward way, or doing any number of actions with an elevated or outstretched arm…..) and the pain dissipates in several seconds and after several minutes I am back to the pre-tweek state.
I did not associate the pain with the Ergo-Rests until I spoke to a friend last weekend who described a very similar pain that her DO (Osteopath) related to her habit of resting her weight on her elbows while eating and doing other activities….. not unlike my resting on the ergo-rests. I am wondering if I am causing a significant weakening of my triceps or some other problem with my Ergo-Rest use
Hi Dan, I work in OT as well as have my own Holistic Health Practice in CranioSacral Therapy. I frequently find people with symptoms such as yours, and one of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of soreness around the scapulae and rhomboid areas of the upper back. There is a referred pain pattern from this area into the elbow, as the anatomy in this whole area is being overstretched with you resting your forearms, twisting into the back seat, etc. I would suggest you quit using your armrests for a few days, keep your elbows close to your body and your chest out with really upright posture, and see if it will not calm your symptoms. Even a little rounding of the chest, and then forward posture of the UEs-with elbow even 1-2 inches forward instead of resting under the shoulder joint can aggravate this type of thing. This rounded posture also precipitates a forward head, which adds more stress to the shoulder joint, which contributes to pain further down the arm.
Let me know if it helps, thanks, Melody
Dan, Is this an example of what you are using, or something similar? I have never liked using these devices for several reasons. The idea came from a therapy product called a mobile arm support (MAS) that is made for people with weak shoulders and arms. The MAS supports the forearm and allows the arm to move in a horizontal plane by the bicep muscle without the effect of gravitiy. Applying this therapy equipment to an able-bodied user creates some problems. Movement in the MAS is horizontal, but the way the ergorest is setup at desk height requires stabilization of the shoulder and vertical/downward force from of the forearm. Also, if the desk is too high or too low or the ergorest is adjusted incorrectly, it can cause impingement at the shoulder from too much shoudler elevation or too much shoudler depression. When supported by an ergorest, an able-bodied arm moves in a restricted, non-normal pattern causing repetitive stress to selected muscles. I can find research supporting the use of MAS for disabled persons with weak shoulder girdle, but nothing supporting the use of the ergorest with able-bodied users. I think a better solution is to adjust the table height and use a chair with adjustable ht/width armrests that fit under the forearm when the arm is next to the body. This set up is less stressful to the shoulder and foream and allows the arm to move in a more normal pattern. I am open to changing my opinion if someone can show me research supporting the use of the ergorest.
Thanks for your reply.
The ergo-rest is pictured in the smaller image you included.
Since writing my post yesterday, I may have come to my senses. I have removed the offending item from my desk. It may now be wise for me to enter into a strengthening program to rebuild the weakened area.
Dan, et al:
In line with comments from Melody and Jeannette, have you considered using a “cockpit” style forearm support tray such as the Butterfly Board? These allow you to keep your elbows closer in to the torso and below the shoulder. There are also several forearm support products in the market which offer height/angle adjustability in order to address Jeannette’s concern about impinging the shoulder.
I manufacture the Click!t product line; we recently began to ship a cockpit style forearm supporting tray that adjusts both height (11″) and tilt (16 degrees total) without use of any knobs or levers, the newest addition to our wide range of plug-and-play keyboard trays. This new tray also supports use of either a conventional mouse or other pointing device in front of the space bar, which a recent study published in Journal of Ergonomics suggests can be beneficial. It is designed to keep keyboard and mouse operations in front of you, between the shoulders, and the user pocket adjusts for a wide range of shoulder widths in keeping with Jeannette’s observations.
There is no one-size-fits-all in ergonomics, and correctly assessing all the needs for an individual is not easy, even when you are that individual. I hope you are successful in finding the perfect solution for yourself!
It is for me much broader than finding the perfect solution for myself. I seek to understand the long term effect of arm support. The short term benefits are clear, both from experience and published research. I was rather surprised by this long term negative effect. To the best of my knowledge the research has not explored such potential long term negative effects.
I have used the Morency boards, and also like then. I used it for about 2 months, and my recolection is also of resting some amount of weight on my forearms as with the ergo rests.
It is true that in both cases I was not working at optimum height. This resulted in some amount of shoulder elevation, approximately 1 inch maybe a little more.
As for elbows under shoulders, the ergo-rests do allow this if the height is optimal.
My experience is only mine, N=1 I would love to hear from others who have used these types of arm supports long term or have long term experience with clients using them, or are aware of long term research. And additional discussion of biomechanics or physiological effects of supporting weight on the forearms is invited.
Don't know if you're still out there. I am having this exact arm pain you describe, the reaching, the pain, it is severe and then subsides quickly, and it's getting worse and worse. I've become a left hand mouser as a result. I am wondering if yours ever got better and what you did about it or has it just gotten worse and worse?
Hope it's the former —
I stopped using the Ergo-rest as soon as it became clear what the issue was. I would now only recommend these for very specific tasks, and not for long term computer use.
Hi, im finding it extreamly uncomftable and painful using the Ergo Rest, Did you find that you had upper arm and shoulder blade pain while using it, I actually have a shoulder injury but worse then the shoulder injury is the shoulder blade injury, This Ergo rest is really causing me discomfort in the shoulder blade (right upper back) ad just below my shoulder running down the arm. Ive been told this shouldnt be happaning but it is, Is anyone else having any of these issues,
I hope you have stopped using the ergo rest! Some people, including me, experience shoulder and arm pain associated with long term usage of the ergo rest. I believe mine related to supporting some of my weight on the rests, which coupled with the need to sometimes exert lateral forces to maintain the rest locations, may have let to my discomfort. I did heal, but it took some time. It was a long while ago but my recolection is that the healing took 2 or 3 or 4 months.
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