They say sitting is the new smoking – are you suffering from back and neck pain while sitting at work? Heres what you can do yourself to help, and set up your work space ergonomically.
Movement is key – One of the main reasons why the musculature in the upper back and neck becomes stiff and contracted leading to pain is due to a lack of blood flow. This causes dehydration in the muscles, which in turn causes muscle fibres to become sticky and therefore knots form. These knots can lead to muscle tension, stiff necks, shoulder pain, tension headaches and trapped nerves.
At Wandsworth Town Osteopathy we know that its hard to get into a good habit of not sitting for too long, so we advise to set a silent alarm on your phone to go off every 30 – 45 minutes. Once the alarm goes off do some gentle stretching or rotation exercises with the shoulders and neck or even better – get up and go for a walk. After time you will begin to pre-empt the alarm and movement will become more habitual.
Positioning of the monitor and keyboard plays a huge part in defining your posture. Unfortunately in todays modern world laptops and phones are getting smaller and we are hunching over them more and more. This puts a massive strain on the posterior muscles of the head and neck as they are fighting harder to hold your head up the more you lean forward, leading to upper back pain and neck pain. By raising the screen to just below eye level, with your nose in the centre of the screen, and getting a separate keyboard to bring closer to your body, you will automatically resort to a more neutral working position. Your mouse needs to be the same height as the keyboard with your elbows at 90 degrees – this will help to reduce any form of work related repetitive strain injury (RSI), as well as ‘desk induced’ tennis elbow!
While sitting your feet should be flat on the floor, adjust the chair height so your thighs are angling very slightly down so that your weight is on you ‘sit bones’. Ears should be directly above the shoulders and your back flush against the chair, this will help reduce lower back pain and prevent the onset of sciatica and nerve impingement.
Standing desks are becoming more popular as evidence grows for the damage a sedentary lifestyle does to the body. By having a standing desk it is much easier to hold a good posture as you fatigue less quickly. There are many desktop convertors that turn a desk into a standing one, if your office does not supply standing desks
Many of us are able to work from home these days, perhaps a couple of times a week. Don’t fall into the trap of sitting on the sofa all day, or worse in bed! Get onto the kitchen table and try set up your work station as above!