When you leave home for the office, you expect to spend a day that will be professionally challenging. What you may not be aware of is that spending 8 to 10 hours daily in front of a desk, can place significant demands on your health as well.
When you sit for long periods of time, typing while hunched over your computer keyboard and staring at a screen all day, you can easily do a lot of harm to your body. Generally, the blame for many of the aches and pains that so-called ‘desk jockeys’ continue to suffer from, lies squarely on the length of time they stay seated in unnatural positions.
It goes without saying that you must visit your physician whenever you are in pain in order to get proper treatment and to identify any underlying problems. However, you can get temporary relief and start to get rid of nagging problems by following some of the tips below.
Fix No.1: Lower Back Pain
When you are chained to a desk for hours on end, you are at risk of suffering from lower back pain, which is the most common back problem related to the workplace. Slouching forward over your desk or sitting slumped back in your chair pulls your spine out of alignment and strains the muscles and ligaments in your back.
The Quick Fix: When muscle tension crops up, you can relieve it by moving your pelvis forward and back while still seated in your chair. You could also try to tilt your hips up while arching your back and tilting them back to loosen up tight muscles.
The Long-Term Solution: Get support. Your entire back should be supported by the back of the chair to ensure you are seated upright. If the back of the chair has a gap, purchase a lumbar pillow to maintain your posture. When seated, always rest the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
Fix No.2: Wrist Strain
Spending long periods of your day pounding away at a keyboard, writing reports or typing out email messages, can result in serious injury to your arms and hands. The issues result from overuse and the positioning of wrists on your desk as you type. Poor posture also has a role to play since blood flow to the lower arms is decreased when you hunch your shoulders forward.
The Quick Fix: Performing the Buddha Stretch, also known as a Prayer Stretch: This involves placing your palms together with fingers pointing upward in front of you. You then move your elbows out while you lower your hands to give your wrists a good stretch. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
The Long-Term Solution: While using your keyboard or mouse, ensure that your wrists are positioned parallel to your desk and floating in the air, not higher than your hands nor rested on your desk. Because the key to avoiding and fixing wrist strains is rest, take regular breaks.
Fix No.3: Neck & Shoulder Aches
Quite often, pain in the neck or shoulder pain is the result of placing your computer too far away from you on your desk, forcing you to lean forward or to twist your upper body when working. As a result, your neck and shoulders jut forward, out of alignment with your spine while straining your shoulder muscles and the soft tissues in your back.
The Quick Fix: Because of the extreme discomfort these types of aches cause, many people are tempted to pop a pill; however, clinical studies have found that stretching exercises are a more effective way to eliminate the aches than non-prescription pain medication.
The Long-Term Solution: Ensure that the computer is stationed directly in front of you and within easy reach. Also, avoid cradling the headset of your phone on your shoulder; use the speaker phone or a headset to avoid straining your neck.
Fix No.4: Eye Strain
Staring at a computer screen for a long time, having the monitor too far to see or too close to focus are major reasons why many people suffer from eye strain. Eye fatigue is also caused by the tendency of computer users to blink less than normal.
The Quick Fix: Give your eyes a break by taking a break from the screen after every 30 minutes or so to focus on a distant object or simply shut your eyes for a minute or two.
The Long-Term Solution: Occupational safety experts recommend that you should have your monitor at a distance of 20 to 40 inches away to ensure it is neither too near nor too far, with the top of the screen being roughly at eye level.
Fix No. 5: Tight Hips
With time, sitting while in a bent position – whether at a desk in the office or when working from your couch at home – causes your front hip muscles, known as flexors, to shorten, resulting in pain. This shortening is also one of the causes of lower back pain.
The Quick Fix: Get down on one knee, like you are going to propose, place the foot of the other leg forward at a 90-degree angle. Bend the knee of the front leg and move your pelvis forward to stretch your hip. Switch legs and repeat.
The Long-Term Solution: At regular intervals, stand up and walk around. This simple action improves circulation, stretches your tense muscles and works idle ones.
These exercises are by no means a substitute for medical advice from a trained professional, but they will definitely help you to feel better and to be much more comfortable than you would otherwise. If you want to work effectively, it is vital to ensure that you take care of your health as well.