We’ve all experienced one of those days when we just can’t get comfortable, making our working day uncomfortable and so much longer! And that can sometimes make us feel irritable and short-tempered too. Not a great combination but one that can be easily remedied.
I think office ergonomics have moved on now, so that we all know that using a laptop on our knees for long periods of time or hunching over our computer is bad practice. However, many people are still suffering with office-based pain problems, such as neck pain, shoulder pain or headaches.
So here are some lesser-known tips to help prevent these issues – and they are all pretty easy to do too!
If you’re sitting comfortably then we’ll begin with our top five ways of improving your posture and helping you to feel better:
- Are you a leaner?
- Or are you a twister?
These first two categories really go together. Many people twist or lean when they are at their desks, slumping their shoulders towards their mouse, leaning their left elbow on the table but relaxing to the right. (How many of you are reading this at work and have just checked if that’s what you’re doing?)
You may be spending the majority of the day twisted slightly right towards the telephone, or towards a good source of work gossip!
Any asymmetry in posture can lead to certain muscle groups working harder than they need to. This can lead to muscle fatigue and when muscles get tired, they ache. This leads to pain at the end of your day.
The way to combat this is to alter your sitting position, getting rid of the arms on your chair, using a supportive spinal cushion, moving the phone or printer. Don’t forget this does not just apply to office staff; I’ve seen drivers, machine operators or breastfeeding mums who have the same problems.
Not sure if you have this problem? Ask your work mates for an evaluation or get them to take a photo of you at work, scrutinise it for your posture. And if you are still at a loss then it is worth getting an assessment from an osteopath or manual therapist. They will probably be able to tell just by looking at your posture!
- Check your glasses, screen and brightness setting
Eye strain is a leading cause of headaches and neck pain. It always surprises me how many people do not wear their glasses when needed! It is also worth having a regular eye test – keep an eye out for deals.
Other factors which lead to eye strain include having a dusty or dirty screen, having sunlight streaming onto the screen or brightness settings which are either too high or too low. Having a larger computer screen can also reduce the risk of eye strain. So if you need to regularly spend long periods of time dealing with your emails, it may help to do it on a PC rather than peer at your iPhone screen!
- Using a mouse?
If you do, many people end up with wrist, elbow or shoulder problems because they are using too much force to move the mouse in repetitive movements. If your mouse isn’t gliding around your desk with very little force, try investing in a mouse mat, a laser mouse or a graphics pad.
Similarly, if you are left-handed it may be worth investing in a left-handers mouse, which should be easier to use.
Sitting directly under the air-conditioning unit? This can cause many problems such as sinus dryness, neck stiffness or sitting in an awkward way to try and avoid the breeze. If it is not possible to move location within your office, it may be worth investing in some silk scarves, keeping hydrated and taking breaks outside the office during your working day.
And if after all of that you are still unable to sit comfortably at work and ending the day without aches and pains, it may be worth speaking to your osteopath or another practitioner.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can always call us on 01242 227752 and we’ll do our best to help.