Our bodies are not designed for a sedentary lifestyle, and they certainly weren't designed for sitting at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (probably more if you work in the city!) Headaches, back pain, RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome are all examples of musculoskeletal disorders that can often be attributed to prolonged periods of working at the computer.
These commonplace injuries aren't just a pain for you, they're also a pain for your employer. In the UK, the total number of working days lost due to musculoskeletal disorders in 2013/14 was 8.3 million, of which 2.8 million were due to back disorders! On average, each person with a back disorder took 12.3 days off of work (www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/).
But what can you do to protect yourself from developing these types of injuries? Here's my 10 top tips for keeping #painfree at work!
1) Make sure the top 1/3 of your screen is at eye level
2) Both feet should be planted on the floor
3) Knees should be below hips
4) Don't curl the tailbone under - make sure that your are sitting tall on your sitting bones, so that your tailbone is not tucked up with the lower back rounded. This position ensures good positioning in your chair, with minimal stress on muscles, ligaments and joints of the lumbar spine.
5) Wrists should be relaxed and straight when using the keyboard and mouse
6) On the phone all day? Use a headpiece - Spending half the day typing with a phone balanced between your ear and shoulder can play havoc with your neck, leading to imbalances in neck musculature and headaches. Using a headpiece is an inexpensive solution to taking the strain off
7) Move around! Take reguar breaks - Try to take a small break every 30 minutes, just to stand up and walk to the water cooler, or to do a few stretches.. see tip 8!
8) Stretch hip flexors, hamstrings, wrists and pecs - you can easily stretch your wrists at your desk e.g. if you want to stretch the right wrist, turn the right palm up, and use the left hand to stretch the fingers of the right hand down, maintaining this stretch, slowly straighten out the right arm so it's straight with the wrist fully extended (palm up and fingers pointing down). Commit to a pec stretch every time you walk through the door of the office kitchen to make a cuppa:
Hip flexors and hamstrings are a bit more difficult to do in the office, but when you get home, stretch the hip in a low lunge position keeping the back straight, and stretch out your posterior chain with a down dog stretch!
9) Don't eat lunch at your desk - do your best to go for a quick walk outside and stretch your legs at lunchtime, your body will thank you for it!
10) Manual therapy - make sure that you address aches and pains, rather than ignoring them. Musculoskeletal pain is your body's only way of communicating to you that something is under stress/ strain, so listen to it. Be quick to get pain diagnosed and treated, and with osteopathy you'll be given advice on how to manage your own pain and what to do to prevent recurrence of injury.
Click here to book your consultation with our Osteopath in the city, or here to find out more about the corporate package and discount.