- Posted by Multi-Care Medical
- On March 7, 2017
Neck and back pain is a major problem for many adults today, especially those who work in sedentary office jobs. In fact, office workers are more likely to suffer back pain than those who work much more physically demanding jobs. The human body just isn’t made to sit still for extended periods of time, and forcing it to do so carries consequences.
Fortunately, there are some easy changes you can make to reduce or possibly even eliminate back and neck pain at work. Here are a few ideas that can help make you more comfortable during your workday as well as in your off hours.
Prioritize Your Posture
Many people find it all too tempting to hunch over in front of the computer, but doing so can be devastating to your neck and back. Maintaining a correct sitting posture throughout the day reduces the amount of stress on your spine as well as the rest of your body.
Here are some tips to help you maximize your physical comfort at work.
- Chin up: Your head posture can have a huge impact on the rest of your spine. Your head is heavier than you realize! Looking downward will encourage the rest of your body to slump forward. Instead, keep your chin up and your head centered over your body.
- Roll with it: Another tip for preventing yourself from hunching over your computer is, instead, to roll your shoulders back and down. This optimizes the natural curve of your spine, maintaining a posture that has been associated with fewer back problems.
- Mind your lower body posture: Your lower body matters, too! Keep your legs uncrossed, your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart, and your knees at a 90-degree angle over your ankles. This supports your upper body and helps your spine maintain a natural, comfortable posture while also minimizing tension in your ankles and knees and improving circulation.
- Remember to breathe: Breathing is more difficult to remember than you might expect. Especially when sedentary or stressed, the human body tends to automatically shift into a shallower breathing pattern. Whenever you remember, practice breathing from your belly button. Taking deeper breaths will help to engage your core muscles and lift your upper body, naturally encouraging better posture.
Setting Up Your Workstation
Now you know how to sit properly, but if your workstation isn’t set up correctly, it’ll be hard to maintain proper posture. Here are a few adjustments you may need to make in how your workstation is arranged.
- Find the right chair: The wrong chair will make it too easy to slip back into bad habits, so finding the right chair is important. A chair that has good lower back, or lumbar, support is important. You should also be able to adjust your chair so that it reclines slightly. The height of your chair should be adjustable too, so that you can sit with your feet flat on the floor, and armrests should be lowered until your elbows can maintain a 90-degree angle.
- Elevate your monitor: Many people make the mistake of working on a laptop, or of putting their monitor on the desk right behind their keyboard. Having your monitor too low will cause hunching, however. Instead, elevate your monitor two or three inches above eye level to encourage you to sit up and keep your chin up.
- Keep your mouse close: Overreaching or twisting to work your mouse can make it harder to maintain good posture, or worse, cause repetitive strain injuries. Ideally, both your keyboard and mouse should be low and close, so that you can use them while maintaining a comfortable 90-degree angle in your elbows.
- Use a headset: Another huge mistake that many people make is pinching the phone between their ear and shoulder while they work. This cramps your neck and twists your back, wreaking havoc on your spine. Instead, use a headset or speakerphone so that you can maintain a more correct posture while you’re on the phone.
Take Frequent Breaks
Now that you’ve perfected your posture and arranged your workstation to support it, don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day. Taking a break about once every hour will help reduce chronic pain by keeping your body more limber, giving you a break from the pressure on your spine, and increasing your circulation. It also gives you a break from that buildup of tension, both physical and mental. Your body and your mind will both thank you!
Improving your work habits are only one piece of the puzzle. Modern medicine offers a range of service that can help you deal with back pain, including massage, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and pain management. Visit Multi-CareMedical.com to find the services and location that best suit your needs.