- Sit at a desk for many hours at a time?
- Perform repetitive motions for extended periods of time?
- Use a computer without taking breaks?
These are common causes of muscular strain in the workplace, however with a few changes and the addition of good habits you can stay productive at work and remain pain free.
Tip 1: Sit Well
It is important when working at your desk that you are mindful of your posture and that your equipment is set up correctly. Better still, switch to a standing desk so you have the option of sitting or standing during the day. Things to look out for include:
- Is your screen at eye level? If your monitor does not have height adjustment try elevating it with a riser, or even books.
- Keep your mouse close. It’s easy for your mouse to drift away from you when not working, make sure you’re not overstretching to reach it.
- Keep your keyboard close. You should be able to sit up in your chair and have your elbows in an L-shape and be able to reach your keyboard. Make adjustments if you are overstretching to reach it.
- Adjust your chair. You should be able to sit right back into your chair, so your lower back is supported while still comfortably accessing your equipment.
- Ensure your feet are on the floor. The height of your chair should allow your feet to easily reach to the floor. Foot rests should only be used if you are under 5’ 2”, if you are taller than this you will push your hips back into your pelvis, which will strain your lower back.
- Avoid crossing your legs (my pet bugbear, as many of my patients know!). It can cause circulation problems and puts unnecessary strain through your lower back.
Your employers should be able to provide you with a workstation assessment.
Tip 2: Regularly Reset your Posture
While you may start the days in the correct position it can be very easy to drift into a slouched position at your desk. Try putting a sticky note on your monitor as a reminder to re-set your posture every time you see it, or set an alarm on your PC.
Tip 3: Take Regular Breaks
It is recommended that you should take a break from your desk every 30 minutes for one or two minutes. Try building in some of these good habits into your working day:
- Stand up and move around for a few moments around your desk
- Take the opportunity to get a drink of water, which also helps to keep you hydrated.
- Rather than phoning an office colleague, can you walk over and speak to them?
- When on the phone, can you take the call standing up rather than sitting?
Tip 4: Laptop Working
The same advice applies when working at a laptop, even more so if you don’t have the luxury of an adjustable chair or monitor.
- Consider getting a wireless keyboard and / or risers so you can optimise your work posture.
- Also consider where you work, especially if you’re working from home. Your dining room table may be convenient but it is likely to be at an incorrect height, which may cause shoulder, neck and back pain.
Tip 5: On the Phone
If your work involves making lots of calls, avoid tucking handsets between your neck and shoulder. Consider getting a headset so you are not battling with the handset, keeping your hands free and able to maintain a healthy posture.
How I can help
Hopefully you can keep healthy at work by introducing the above advice but if you do find yourself suffering from aches and pains such as back and neck ache, elbow or wrist pain, I will be able to provide further advice on healthy working habits and treatment if necessary to get you back to work.