If you’re somebody who spends all day at a desk and computer (which applies to a large percentage of our patients), you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether it’s lower back pain, wrist pain, a really tight neck, or a lack of mobility, when we spend all day at a desk to pay the bills, our bodies often get stuck picking up the tab.
What can we do to counteract this office life we have to live?
SET YOUR WORKSPACE UP TO SUCCEED:
If you work a desk job, you probably spend more time at your desk than you do at anything else in your life. And yet, that time is often spent sitting in a chair that’s too low, with a desk that’s too high, and our necks bent down looking at a screen at an angle that makes us feel like Quasimodo. That can result in all sorts of nasty stuff, like eyestrain, shoulder pain, back pain, arm pain, wrist pain, and neck pain. Desk jobs might not seem physically taxing, but they can certainly cause us some physical problems. If you’re going to level up your office life, it’s time to do a desk audit.
So let’s start with setting your desk chair at the proper height so you can type without scrunching your shoulders up. You want to sit in a chair at a height where you can sit with your shoulders relaxed and pulled back, you’re sitting up tall, and your forearms are parallel to the ground, meaning you don’t need to reach up to your keyboard, nor shrug your shoulders.
I can tell when I work at a desk that’s the wrong height, and you probably can too: my shoulders shrug up, I get tense, and my neck bothers me for the next few days. So, set your desk at the right height for you!
You probably spend more than a third of your existence at a desk chair, so do what you can to make sure you’re sitting in a chair that is not causing you pain!
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a great chair (unless you can afford it) – you simply need a chair that has an adjustable height so you can set it so your feet are comfortably on the floor, a solid cushion to sit on, and good lower back support.
If you think your office chair supplied by your company is sub-standard, do some research into a new chair keeping in mind the above points. If you need some help selecting the right chair for you, consider enlisting the help of a QOL physio to come and perform an ergonomic assessment and provide you with the correct advice and recommendations.
If you work with a laptop, you are spending most of your day hunched over a tiny keyboard and screen. Even if you work with a desktop computer, it’s certainly possible the monitor is not high enough for you to be able to not have to tilt your head down to look at it.
You want the height of your monitor to be such that you can look straight ahead and not have to adjust your neck angle to view the screen. Your vision should land in the top 1/3 of the screen whilst marinating your neck in a neutral position.
After spending a few years hunched over a laptop, I fixed my posture by adjusting where my eyes have to look by drastically raising the height of my monitors. Just raising my viewing angle was enough to get me to stop slouching, I no longer shrug my shoulders for hours, and my spine/back/shoulders/neck no longer hate me!
You don’t need anything fancy. You can even just added some books to get the right height:
For laptop users, a separate keyboard and mouse can alleviate a lot of the “cramped” feelings and prevent you from ending up hunched over a laptop.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING – don’t stay in the same position for hours upon hours! Studies suggest the best plan for prolonged spinal health is to consistently alter your work environment – move around, stand when possible, sit…just don’t sit in the same position for 8 straight hours!