You might think of workplace injury as something that happens to people who work in a physically intensive job, but back pain can also be caused by relatively sedentary activities like sitting at a desk, typing at a computer, or staring at a screen all day. The issue isn’t an injury that’s caused by one major activity (for example, lifting a heavy object incorrectly). Instead, the issue is the aggregated strain of regularly performing a basic task with poor ergonomics. Here are some tips for reducing your chances of developing a work-related injury if you work at a desk job.
1. Align your body properly
You might think of posture when you’re standing, but it’s just as important when you’re sitting. Your ears, shoulders, and hips should stay aligned when you are sitting back in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. If you want to switch things up, you can sit at the edge of your chair while still practicing this alignment. The key is to avoid the temptation to slouch. While it may feel comfortable at the time, putting your body out of alignment will stress your back and neck, putting you at risk for aches and pains.
2. Get up and get moving
Don’t stay tethered to your desk all day. If you’re at a desk or computer, get up and do a lap around the office every thirty minutes or so. This will help you prevent slumping.
3. Assess your workspace
Is your desk chair at the correct height to allow you to type without hunching your shoulders? Is your computer monitor high (or low) enough that you can look straight ahead? And is it the right distance, so you aren’t craning your neck to reach it? A key way to be sure you keep your body in a healthy, comfortable posture is to make sure that everything you use regularly to perform your job allows you to do so. Move and adjust your chair, monitor, phone, and other necessaries to ensure that you aren’t straining or sitting in an unusual position just to do your job.
4. Get the right equipment
If any part of your office situation isn’t working — whether you need more back support in your chair, a footrest to keep your feet aligned, or a stand to put your monitor at the proper height — make sure that you get the equipment you need. Talk with your human resources representative to find out what your employer may have available. Even though you might not think that equipment is “in the budget,” it’s important for employers to ensure that they are not putting employees at risk of workplace injury (which will cost more money and lost productivity down the road), so they will likely be able to help you.
No matter what kind of work you do, back and neck pain shouldn’t be part of the job description. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, get an accurate diagnosis so you can know how to move forward and find relief. Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 206-496-0630 today to learn more.