Sitting for extended periods of time is detrimental to your health. With many people working from home right now, sitting for long periods may be increased without the usual office equipment, walking and moving around. Remaining stationary and not using proper ergonomics for working can create musculoskeletal issues that cause immediate pain, but also lead to injuries in the future. Sitting for extended periods of time can cause:
- Tightness in hip flexors
- Myofascial tightness
- Joint malalignment
- Muscle weakness
- Overall instability
All of these issues culminate in back pain and muscle and joint dysfunction. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate this risk.
Office Equipment Ergonomics
Ideally, office chairs should promote good posture. Shoulders should be in line with the hips to maintain a good spine position. Your office chair should have good lumbar support to achieve this position; however, you can create this support with a rolled-up towel placed at the base of your back. Seat height should be placed where your knees and hips are at 90-degree angles and your feet are flat on the ground.
Even the best chair cannot force you to use good posture. Pay attention to how you are sitting repeatedly during the day. If you have trouble checking your posture regularly during the day, set regular alarms on your computer or phone to remind you.
Desks or Work Tables
Desk height can contribute to nagging injuries. Elbow height should be at the level of the desk. Wrists should lay flat on the desk to avoid excessive straining, which can lead to nerve compression conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Your keyboard and mouse should be kept close to the computer to limit reaching for these frequently used tools.
Proper Computer Height
Computers should be placed so the center of the screen is at eye level to limit the amount of neck maneuvering. If you use a laptop as your primary computer, you may need to raise the height of your laptop screen or invest in an external monitor. Adjustable desk stands are available that allow you to raise the height of your laptop.
Standing desks offer benefits but are not a cure-all for the musculoskeletal issues of a desk job. The major benefit of a standing desk is that it provides the ability to change your posture so that you are not in any one position for an extended period of time. The stagnant nature of sitting for an extended period of time (or standing for an extended period of time) is the cause of most of the musculoskeletal issues. The standing desk won’t help you unless you remember to use it correctly. Ideally your elbows should still be at 90 degree angles and your screen should be positioned at eye level to avoid neck strain.
Taking frequent, varied breaks is essential to improving your overall health:
- Eye breaks are essential for reducing eye strain from looking at your computer monitor. Every 15 minutes look away from your computer screen for a minute or two to a distant spot, preferably more than 20 feet away. While letting your eye muscles relax, blink them rapidly for a few seconds to refresh the tear film and clear any debris from your eyes.
- Micro-breaks are not breaks from work, but from using muscle sets. Take two minutes or less between bouts of typing to rest your hands flat, relaxed and straight. Use this time to complete a different kind of work task or stretch out for a minute.
- Rest breaks allow rest and exercise of different muscles, which helps you feel less tired. Take a rest break every 30 to 60 minutes – stand up, get a glass of water, walk around your house – get moving.
- Exercise breaks involve stretching and gentle exercises to help relieve muscle fatigue. You should do these every one to two hours. These videos and exercises are also useful to help keep you in tip-top shape.
- Ergonomic software monitors how much you’ve been using your computer and lets you know when to take a break. The software may suggest simple exercises. Because working at a computer can be hypnotic, you can lose track of how much time you’ve been working.
If you are experiencing pain, request an appointment with one of our doctors. We will evaluate the cause of your pain and recommend a customized treatment plan that works for you.Leave a reply →