In the past, office workers were frequently on the move — whether they were bending over to place documents in a filing cabinet, running off to a client meeting, walking to the storage closet to locate records or strolling to their office mailbox. But this old-school way of working is now ancient history.
In today’s high-tech, digital world, most office employees rarely need to leave their computer workstations at all. They can check their e-mail, access digital records and files, and talk to clients on the phone without ever leaving their desk. Unfortunately, spending inordinate amounts of time sitting stationary in front of a computer eventually will wreak havoc on your body.
When you think about it, it’s no wonder that office workers suffer from chronic aches and pains. It’s simply not natural for a body to sit in one position for hours on end. If you put your body through this kind of strain day after day, your body will begin to rebel in the form of stiff arms, throbbing wrists, sore shoulders, and an aching back. If you want to avoid desk aches and pains, follow these simple tips:
- Don’t ignore discomfort: If you begin to feel even a mild ache or minor numbness as you sit at your desk, it’s important to act on it right away. Try to figure out what is causing the discomfort and mend the problem. Although your soreness might seem insignificant now, it eventually could develop into chronic pain if you don’t heed your body’s warning signals.
- Get moving: Don’t sit in the same position for hours on end. Every hour or so, get up and move around to prevent blood circulation problems and muscle fatigue. Simply stand up and stretch or take a quick walk around the office to keep your blood flowing and your muscles active.
- Stay neutral: It’s important to keep your joints in a “neutral” position as you work at your computer desk. For example, if you hold your wrist at an odd angle as you type or move your computer mouse, you could develop chronic pain or even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Keep your workstation “ergonomically” correct: If you are experiencing discomfort at your desk, you might need to readjust your workstation. Raise, lower, or re-position your keyboard to keep your wrists neutral and your elbows close to the body. You might also want to consider buying a hand or wrist support for your keyboard and mousepad. Arrange your keyboard so that your forearms rest on the surface of your desk as you type. Your computer monitor should be at a level where your head rests squarely on your shoulders as you look at it. You might also need to raise or lower your chair to find the most comfortable position. Here are a few more tips for keeping your workstation ergonomically correct:
- When using a keyboard or computer mouse, your hands should be even or slightly lower than your elbows. You might need to mount an adjustable keyboard tray mounted under the desktop to achieve this position.
- Keep your hands in-line with your forearms as much as possible — do not bend them out, up, or down at the wrist.
- Rest your elbows on your chair’s armrests and adjust them so the weight of your arms is supported by the armrests, not by your shoulders.
- If your feet don’t sit flat on the floor, place a foot rest under your desk.
- Keep the top of your monitor about eye level so you aren’t bending your neck up or too far down.
- Sit upright so your head is above your shoulders. Don’t slouch forward.
- Use a good adjustable chair and sit so the natural hollow stays in your lower back.
- Position your monitor and keyboard in front of you, not to the side.
- Don’t type with long fingernails. This can cause you to hold your wrists at an awkward angle.