How would you feel if you could implement some quick and simple fixes at work to relieve the loading on your body that causes tightness and pain?
Does this sound familiar? You get to the office, sit at your desk and work starts. The phone starts (and sometimes doesn’t stop), you’ve been clacking the keyboard endlessly, and before you know it the day has gone.
Time is a paradox, the day can seem like its dragging and then suddenly it’s coming to an end and there’s so much work needing to be done. And, to make things worse, your back, neck and shoulders have been stiff and achy, that burning feeling between your shoulders is driving you nuts and to top it off your head hurts… when is the weekend going to be here?
So, how do we minimise the strain on the body while you’re at work?
Thankfully, there are several things to take into consideration that can make your work day less arduous and much more comfortable.
1. Desk setup
First things first – the most important thing you should check is the ergonomics of your work station. If your chair and desk are not ideal for your height, then this can create a lot of postural tension as you will need to slouch or arch to sit at your computer.
If your computer monitor is too high or low this will also cause the same problem.
Is your screen in front of you or off to the side, or do you work with multiple screens? Are they set up to avoid sitting in an over-rotated position?
If your keyboard is sitting on a surface that is too high, you may find yourself hunching and rounding your shoulders just to be able to type.
Ideally, you should be sitting in a position that allows an upright position with shoulders back and down and a slight chin tuck rather than rounding towards your screen.
Getting an ergonomics assessment by an Occupational Therapist can further help to fine tune your work station.
2. Laptop Users
Perhaps you use a laptop rather than a desktop.
Laptops are ultra-convenient for those that need them, in fact, my main computer is a laptop. The best thing I have found to make working away for hours at a time is to sit at my desk, rather than on the couch or at the dining table.
This is common practice with laptop users and I see so many tight backs and necks from those who adopt this work position.
Further to this, I have added a wireless keyboard and mouse, so that the laptop screen is at a comfortable distance from my face, avoiding the inevitable slouch. These are relatively inexpensive and you can find a decent wireless combo for around $30.
To finish off my workstation I have purchased, for roughly $30 again, a laptop stand. This angled tool raises the laptop to a comfortable height, so once again I don’t have to look down at my screen, which will create a lot of tightness and pain.
3. Headsets Are Not A Fashion Accessory
One of the most common issues I find with office workers who are also on the phone a lot is that the tightness that builds up on one side of their neck and into the same shoulder from holding the phone between their ear and shoulder for long periods while they type or write down information.
This creates long term neck issues and headaches but thankfully is an easy fix.
Using a headset at work frees your neck and shoulders up so that you can type away in a better postural position. When I recommend this to my clients who are in this category, they notice immediate improvement and unburdening of their neck and shoulders, and a reduction or elimination of their headaches.
Try this low-cost option for yourself and notice the difference immediately.
4. Now You See Me
Check the lighting in your workspace.
Is it low mood lighting that makes you tired, your eyes straining to see the words on the screen, lulling you into a tired postural slump?
Or is it so bright and glaring that your retinas are burning and you need to shield your poor eyes with sunglasses?
Getting the lighting comfortably bright will help to reduce eye strain and headaches.
5. The Eyes Have It
Perhaps eye strain is forcing you to round your body to get closer to your screen and is part of the reason you are getting tightness in your upper body and headaches.
If the lighting is not an issue, have you considered getting your eyes checked at the Optometrist?
I have had several clients that updated their glasses prescription or got glasses for the first time, and that was all that was necessary to allow them to sit comfortably without straining their bodies at their desks.
6. It’s Getting Cold In Here
Some workplaces have very efficient cooling, and there always seems to be someone who loves to keep the place cooler than is comfortable… perhaps they came from a country that doesn’t see the temperature rise above 20 degrees!
Some air vents have been inconveniently installed directly above work stations… who put that thing there?!
In any case, cold air blowing on the back of your neck while you are sitting in the same position for a while can seize up the muscles of your back and neck.
Perhaps talk to the self-proclaimed “controller of the air-conditioning” (you know the one) and find a comfortable happy medium… or start wearing a scarf to work.
7. Put Your Feet Up
If you’re like a lot of people who have their legs tucked back under their chairs, then you will also notice tightness in your lower back, hips and legs (hamstrings and calves), which contributes to rounding of the upper body and the stiff jolt to a standing position every time you need to leave your desk.
Your feet should ideally be directly underneath your knees (90 degrees), or placed on a footrest in front of your chair.
This raises your knees in a more relaxed and comfortable position and it also allows you to sit in a more upright posture, which reduces the curve and strain in your lower back.
8. Break The Cycle
As I said at the beginning of this article, the day can feel like its dragging, and then suddenly 8 or 9 hours have gone by and you may have gone to the toilet once or grabbed a quick bite (which may even be at your desk).
Set yourself some regular computer alarms to remind you to get up and get a glass of water (try to keep it away from your desk just so that you have to stand up and move to get one), have a quick stretch, etc.
Whenever you stop and move, you break the cycle of tension that builds up from being in the same position for hours on end.
Hopefully there are some tips in this article that you can adopt today to make your workday feel much more comfortable.
And remember… nothing gets rid of that built up tension better than a Remedial Massage.
During April and May – when you book in 4 massages of any length, you will receive your 4th massage at half price! (book 4x 30min massages and your 4th 30min massage is 50% off; book 4x 60min massages and your 4th 60min massage is 50% off… you get the idea). The 4 appointments must be booked in advance for the offer to apply.
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About me: I am a Remedial Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer and Natural Health practitioner with 20 years’ experience. I am passionate about helping clients to overcome pain and injuries and focus on educating clients to help them regain control of their lives.