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Workplace wellness: Eliminating pain at your desk

Do you ever find yourself with neck or low back pain following a long day at the office? Sitting for long periods of time can really take a toll on your body, especially the neck and low back. The lack of mobility can lead to severe muscular imbalances, aches, pain, and lack of flexibility. Good news is that there are little things that can be done to help prevent these daily aches and pains. Taking time to organize your desk environment is essential to preventing these problems. Here are some simple and easy tips to help you set up your desk the right way.

  1. Sit back in your chair – a lot of us, including myself, like to sit on the tip of our chair. This only leads to a slouching posture, which gets worse throughout the day and overworks muscles that shouldn’t be working when sitting for long periods of time. Sitting back in your chair can help rest and relax your back and neck muscles to be able to withstand long periods of sitting without putting tension in your neck and low back.
  2. Rest your feet on the floor or footrest – ideally your feet should be planted on the floor when you are at your desk. This means your hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle with your feet resting on a footrest or on the floor. If your feet are up in the air, it pulls your hips down putting a strain on your low back increasing the curvature in your spine which makes your low back muscles work when they should be resting. A simple foot rest or lowering your seat to be able to plant your feet can help rest your back and put your back at its optimal posture.
  3. Position the top of monitor at eye level directly in front of you– most of us tend to prop our monitors on books, folders, or anything in sight and position them slightly off o the side. If your monitor is too high or low, it will strain your neck and overwork our shoulder muscles or neck muscles. This is one major cause of severe neck pain. If the top of the monitor is at eye level, it will help to avoid over working the neck muscles during computer work and help to position the neck at its optimal posture.
  4. Use your arm rests- there is a reason why they put armrests on chairs. Use them! In my experience most people tend to rest their arms on the desk or not use the arm rests at all. By not resting your arms on the armrest and positioning your arms and elbows at a 90-degree angle, you tend to heighten your shoulders causing stress in the shoulder and neck muscles. Resting your arms on the armrest can help to avoid this unnecessary stress.

Stay tuned for more workplace wellness tips. Next addition will include simple easy exercises to do at your workstation. If you are experiencing pain and want help setting up your desk, Ross Medical Group physical therapy offers ergonomic assessments and postural analysis to meet your needs and help eliminate this unnecessary pain.

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