If there’s one thing you do a lot of in the office, it’s sit. The vast majority of office-related jobs require sitting and using a computer, both of which can put a lot of stress on your neck and your back.
Without the right equipment and the proper approach, you can be looking at long-term damage to your spine. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can help prevent neck and back problems so you can stay productive and pain free at work.
Where Do Back Pain and Neck Pain come from?
There are several causes for back pain and neck pain – and not all of them are related to work. Any activity that puts strain on your neck or your back can cause long-term problems. But the working environment can produce several causes of pain and strain throughout your body. Repeated activities, like sitting still looking at a computer monitor, can affect the joints, muscles and tendons that support your neck and your back.
When these parts of your skeletomuscular system are affected, it can cause pain and limited mobility. Since the majority of office work is repetitive, back and neck pain are common problems for many office workers.
How to Prevent Pain with Smart Ergonomics
Ergonomics can be used to help protect your neck and support your back. It’s the science of adjusting your environment to suit your body’s needs – instead of the other way around. For example, most people don’t think about the effect that their chair or desk placement has on their well-being. However, sitting in the same position each day and doing the same actions over and over again can take their toll.
It all starts with the placement of your desk and your chair. By keeping your neck and back in a neutral position, you can support the natural curve of your spine and prevent pain. Your chair should place your computer screen at eye level so you don’t have to tilt your head up or down to read your text. Your chair should also have arm rests that you can use to support your elbows when you type. Your feet should be flat on the floor as you sit on your desk. These may seem like small changes but they can make a big difference in how you hold your spine, and the long term effects that you experience.
If your current chair doesn’t support sitting like this, it’s time to find a new one! There are ergonomic chairs available that are specially built to support your back and neck. If your old chair is worn out, or it is contributing to your repetitive stress injuries, you should be able to request a new one from the office manager.
A good chair will allow you to take the position outlined above – feet flat on the floor, elbows on arm rests and sitting up straight – but there are also other features to look for in a good chair. You should be able to sit in the chair all the way back to the back rest. Even though you may have been taught to sit away from the back of the chair, this position is too difficult to maintain for long periods of time. You should have your back flat against the back support, with a few inches of space between the back of your knees and the seat of your chair.
Stretch to Prevent – and Relieve – Neck and Back Pain
In addition to the right equipment, you need to get your body moving in the right way. Office work is stressful on the body because you don’t move around as much as you should. A simple solution to this is to take regular stretching breaks. Get up out of your chair at least once per hour and stretch out your arms, neck and back. If you do this regularly, you’re less likely to experience strain that can lead to pain. You’ll also be able to reduce any pain that you’re currently experiencing.
By finding the right chair, positioning yourself properly and taking time to stretch, you may help reduce and prevent neck and back pain at work – and at home.