How to Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders in Office Workers
Try it now: Sitting at your desk, make sure you have good posture. Here is what you should be looking for:te
a.) Feet – should be flat on the floor. If your chair or desk height do not enable this, use a phonebook (who has one these days?) or a couple of binders to prop them up.
b.) Knees – should be at hip height so that thighs are parallel to the floor. To make this happen, adjust your chair height or order more phonebooks.
c.) Low back -a neutral low back posture has a lordosis, a little bit of an inward curve. This means that your back should not be completely straight. To help with this, a simple aid is a rolled up towel which is placed between your buttocks and low back.
d.) Mid back – should not be resting against the back of your chair at all times. You should be able to sit up on your chair comfortably and use the mid back support intermittently (yes, engage those abdominals).
e.)Shoulders – squeezed back to the point where you feel a slight ‘chest out’ posture. They should also be depressed, like they are being pulled down to the ground.
f.) Neck – The chin should be lightly tucked down towards the chest and then the neck retracted, meaning pulled back from the base of the head. Almost as if you were going to give yourself a double chin… but not.
g.) Distance from the computer – you should be sitting fairly close to the keyboard so that your elbows are as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. The monitor should be centered in front of you at eye level. Typically monitors need to be slightly elevated, again, this is where those phonebooks come in handy!
Posture is Key
Now maintain that posture and let’s carry on. Many of the patients we see at painPRO are seeking treatment for injuries which were acquired from their desk related jobs. Such injuries may be, but are not limited to: upper fibers of trapezius tightness, neck pain, shoulder impingement syndrome, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), wrist tendinopathy, thoracic spine (mid back) pain, lumbar (low back) pain, hip dysfunction/malalignment or pain.
Why do these injuries happen?
Typically, when working at a desk, our posture and ergonomics are not ideal. If you haven’t had the opportunity to have your desk area assessed by an ergonomic specialist this may be something to request from your employer. Often employers will have an ergonomic specialist available to assess you and your work space to provide you with tips on how to make your area the least stressful on your body. Sitting in one position for a lengthy time, having your neck turned constantly to read a paper as you type, holding a phone between your ear and shoulder are all habits that seem convenient and easy at first. However, if done repetitively and for a long duration of time, they can have a negative impact on your body.
Why did your posture change?
Fatigue is a big factor. Fatigue is a point when our muscles are not strong enough to maintain an endurance activity such as sitting for as long as we do. So yes, strengthening the right muscles in the proper way is very important and can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders that may arise. Here are some super easy exercises that you can do while sitting at your desk right now.
When working already fatigued muscles, it can lead to muscles being strained. Low/mid back, neck and forearm strains are fairly common for desk workers. It is common to continue working while in postures that are not so ideal. We may not feel anything in the moment, but repetition has a funny way of accumulating strain on our bodies, until one day it hits you.
What else can be done?
So, what else can we do to prevent these work-related pain in office workers?
- Postural exercises as mentioned.
- Proper ergonomic set up.
- Mouse switching; try to be a little ambidextrous, switch your mouse to the opposite hand.
- Don’t make anything on your desk permanent, move things around every few days so that your posture is constantly changing.
- Take breaks every 20-30 minutes even if it is for a minute or two. Get up to use the washroom, stretch/strengthen, take the dog out for a walk or get a cup of coffee and bug someone for a minute.
Are you still sitting at your desk properly as described in the beginning of this blog? Take a break and re-check. Have you started slouching? Is your neck protruding out like a chicken? Are your wrists flat on the table? All of these are not desirable! Do you feel any aches and pains? Where? What are you going to do about it?
Seek professional advice!
For a more personalized approach to your pain management, book an appointment with one of our specialists today.BOOK ONLINE NOW!