Many people spend their days hunched over a computer or desk for work, so many jobs require people to sit for extended periods of time leaving many workers with back and neck pain. We see multiple patients every day that suffer from desk work related pain – but it doesn’t have to be that way!
The majority of office workers do not have their work stations positioned in a way that reduces the risk of injury and pain. Having an ergonomically correct work station is essential for your well being and should be provided by any work place. Below are some tips on decreasing work related pain ands setting up your work station properly!
Firstly adjust your work station, everyone should have their monitors, chairs, desks, keyboards and mice in a position that is custom to their body. These items are always adjustable and many people leave them the way they came out of the box – here is how your station should be set up to reduce the risk of pain:
Head and neck
- aligned above shoulders and shoulders aligned with hips- avoid straining forward
- Use a headset or hold the phone- do not cradle phone between shoulder and neck
- Eyes should be level with the top 1/3 of the screen and 20-28 inches from the screen (Trick: close your eyes and open them – your eyes should be level with the address bar)
Arms and hands
- Mouse should be next to the keyboard so both elbows parallel and at your sides
- Elbows should be at desk level and wrists straight – adjust the height of your chair to get the correct position
- do not use the kickstands provided with most keyboards as this causes your wrists to be bent
Back, hips and feet,
- Ensure that your chair has proper lumbar back support – if not purchase a lumbar support to add
- the back of your chair should be slightly reclined
- Ensure that there is little space between the edge of your chair and back of your knees (about the size of a fist) do not sit forward on the edge of your chair
- Ensure your feet are flat on the floor – not dangling and shoulder width apart (shorter people may need a foot rest and larger people may need to adjust the height of the desk) (Tip: if you find yourself putting your feet behind you, sitting on one leg you need to adjust your chair)
Other important things to watch out for
- Swivel on your chair- having this feature is important to avoid straining your back when trying to perform tasks on parts of your desk that are not directly in front of you
- Make sure objects that you use frequently are within reach (ex/ the phone, pens, calculator etc)
- Arm rests on your chair can help keep arms in a comfortable position- these are usually adjustable too and need to be at keyboard height
While setting up the workstation is crucial you need to make an effort to sit at your desk correctly- be mindful of where your body is in space and how you may be contributing to muscle aches and pains. Here are some tips on keeping your body’s posture in check :
- No Slouching– use your chair back to cue this – make sure your back is always touching the back of your chair
- Keep your shoulders back and relaxed – roll shoulders back like you are trying to put your shoulder blade in your back pocket
- Avoid hiking shoulders towards your ears
- Take frequent breaks– when your body is in one position for too long you tend to get lazy with posture and forget to correct yourself. Every 30 minutes you should be getting up even if its just to stand briefly this will change your body position and allow you to re cue.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look away from the computer screen and at something 20 feet away from you
While these tips will help you drastically reduce pain and injury associated with sitting and working at a desk for prolonged periods of time, it may not 100% eliminate all pain or discomfort. Seeing a physiotherapist will help keep muscles and joints loose and give you the tools you need to soothe sore and achy muscles after a long day.
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Pro Active Health Group offers: Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic Care and Custom Orthotics and much more!