As we all know, the human body is not designed to sit for extended periods of time. Doing so can cause stress throughout the entire body; this can lead to low back pain, neck and shoulder pain, and even wrist pain. The good news is that by making some simple ergonomic adjustments, you can significantly reduce your pain and discomfort.
Low back Pain
Low back pain is the number one complaint and work related issue from sitting all day. Whether you suffer from ongoing pain or the occasional backache, back pain can keep your from performing your best. Try these changes and see if you don’t find some relief:
Alternate sitting and standing throughout the day- Set a timer to go off every thirty minutes, and when that timer goes off, stand up and move around. Try to stand up every time you make a phone call, then remain standing for the duration of the call. During your lunch or coffee breaks, spend a few moments walking around the building; the fresh air will do you a world of good and there’s still plenty of time to eat.
Be mindful of your posture. Sit up straight and keep your shoulders down and back. Your knees should be even or slightly lower than your hips. Keep your feet flat on the floor and use a footrest or stool if needed.
Desk risers- Desk risers are getting more popular as people realize that sitting all day is bad for their health. There are lots of options out there and most risers are adjustable. The adjustable versions can be lowered and raised throughout the day, allowing you to sit for part of the day and stand for the rest of the day. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to raise your computer either; you can use books, boxes, or anything you find around the house or office. Just make sure you raise your computer to the correct height.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck and shoulder pain can be quite uncomfortable. Holding on to stress in our neck and shoulders is common; we definitely don’t need to add to that stress by sitting at a desk, or in front of a computer all day. Here are some simple adjustments to try:
Keep your computer and keyboard at the correct distance away from you. If they are too far away, it will cause you to position your neck and shoulders forward and add unwanted strain.
Adjust your computer to the correct height. Your monitor should be high enough that the screen is even with your eyes. You should not have to adjust the angle of your neck to see the screen.
Be mindful of your posture. Keep your shoulders back, your neck relaxed and looking straight ahead, and don’t slouch forward.
Do some shoulder rolls. Every 15 minutes or so, try and remember to do a few shoulder rolls (do them when that timer goes off reminding you to stand up).
Wrist pain can be another casualty caused from too much time spent on a computer. Following these few tips might help alleviate that discomfort.
Take Breaks- Taking frequent breaks can really help; even lots of 5 second breaks can make a huge difference. Every 30 minutes do something different that doesn’t involve the computer: make a phone call, file or anything that gives your hands, wrists, and fingers a change of pace.
Position your wrists correctly. Make sure your wrists are straight, not angled out to the side (duck footed), or angled in towards each other (pigeon toed).
Make adjustments. Your wrists should be at the same level as your elbows and try to keep hands and wrists relaxed; don’t grip the mouse too tightly or hit the keyboard too hard. Also, get out of the habit of putting too much weight on the armrests of your chair.
Making these small changes throughout the day can make a big difference in how you feel both in and out of the office. You will not only reduce your pain and discomfort, but your job satisfaction, health, and happiness will be on the rise. Remember, pain is an indication that something is wrong! If you make these small adjustments and you’re still experiencing pain, get it checked out. Ask your physician if physical therapy will help.