Today, most of us sit at a desk or coffee shop working from a computer or laptop. It seems most everything we do these days we do seated with a connected device. With that, we have seen a rise in the number of people who work like this with experiencing pain and strain or even injuries. The most common issues that we see in people who maintain desk jobs are low back pain, neck pain, overuse or repetitive strain injuries, hip and leg tightness and headaches.
Here are five important tips on how to decrease, eliminate or even prevent issues due to working at a desk or on a computer.
Tip #1: Take breaks every 30-45 minutes
It is so important to get up and move around during the day, especially if you are primarily sitting. This “break” can consist of any type of movement, change in body position and posture, or a small walk down the hallway and back. Don’t get stuck sitting for longer than 45 minutes at a time.
Tip #2: Watch your posture
Watch your posture, correct your posture, maintain proper posture. If you are not aware of your proper posture then this tends to decline over time when you are sitting and working on a computer. Keep the spine straight, sit on your “sit bones,” and keep shoulders down/back and head in line with your body. If you tend to slouch, correct this as often as you can. The more you can maintain a proper posture throughout the day, the better you will feel.
Tip #3: Stay hydrated
The recommendation is to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. This will keep your body and mind going strong- we are made up of water! If you don’t drink enough water, the body will feel sore, stiff, and dehydrated and you will have less energy. Also notable is that for each cup of coffee you should drink an extra glass of water to counterbalance the dehydrating effects of coffee and caffeine.
Tip #4: Ergonomics are extremely important
Having the proper set-up in your work environment is imperative to keeping your body pain-free. There are ergonomic specialists that will observe you at your desk and guide you on specifics for your body and how it fits the work station. Talk to your HR Director to see if this is already set up with your place of business. In general, you want your feet flat and hips above knees when you are seated. Your back should be properly supported and elbows at 90 degree angles to your keyboard. Head should be level and on straight, not looking down or up to your computer screen.
These days, standing desks are often an option and a great one at that! This allows you to take breaks from sitting and keep a better posture. There are also laptop holders that elevate your screen to eye level and thus a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse to keep the proper angles at your shoulders, elbows and wrist.
Tip #5: Stretch and stabilize throughout the day
Don’t wait until the end of the day to stretch and activate our postural muscles. Stretch your neck, shoulders, low back and legs throughout the day with 30 second holds for the most effectiveness. Also, stabilize with the muscles by pinching shoulder blades together and down into your back pockets and chin retractions for the neck. Squeeze your buttocks muscles throughout the day as well.
These specific tips can keep you pain-free now as well as into the future. It’s worth taking the extra moment and make these into a habit each day, for your longevity and quality of work life.