Those of us that are in a work setting that requires time at a desk and on a computer, are seeing an increase in the use of online meetings and conferences due to the need for social distancing. Even leisure and social gatherings are happening online often in a an effort to avoid in person interactions.
Global change in social and work structure
Before this global change in social and work structure, the challenge of computer desk work was already a major contributor to neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain.
How we position ourselves for prolonged periods is dictated by the work space and environment that we create for ourselves. Setting ourselves up for optimal tolerance for work duties is within our control and the value of getting it right has just skyrocketed.
Not Tied Down to a desk
The use of laptops, electronic notebooks, and smart phones have given us the freedom of not being tied down to a desk, which may seem liberating.
When you are spending time on these types of electronics for prolonged periods daily though, you may find that being back at your desk provides you with some purposeful control over your positioning and improved endurance for your work time.
Whether working from home or at the office, there are standard to recognize and stick to. Regardless of your location and preference for electronics, you can consider these basics to set your space up to accommodate good positioning. Our bodies will conform to our environment regardless. So set it up with purpose for those prolonged periods.
good chair support
When seated your chair should support you when leaning back on it without rocking. When seated properly you should have your feet resting flat on the floor or on a foot rest minimizing compression on the back of your thighs which often causes nerve impingement (My legs are falling asleep!).
Of course you have to have your chair height set to match your desk height. So, if you need something under your feet use books or a box. Not having an adjustable chair poses a problem of course.
Whether you decide to sit or stand to be engaged with your choice of electronics, you should set the height of your keyboard at elbow height and close enough to you so that your elbows are by your side when you are resting on the back of your chair if seated. This prevents you from having to reach and allows you to keep your wrists straight.
Having your key pad at the right distance from you prevents you from reaching forward or rounding your shoulders forward. Having the ability to switch between sitting and standing allows your body to avoid positional fatigue. Keep frequently used items close to you in an effort to minimize unnecessary reaching.
Desktop monitors should be positioned at a height where the top of the monitor should be at eye level to encourage a neutral head position and minimal stress to your neck. You can use books to raise your monitor if needed.
Eye strain is a common problem unrelated to screen position but can be severe. Be aware of sunlight glare on screens which cause you to strain your eyes. Look into blue blocking glasses that are designed to filter blue light, which contributes to digital eye strain (DES).
Try out these neck stretches
In this video, Cole Thompson, DPT, demonstrates a few stretches to help counteract your neck pain while sitting at your workstation. Performing these throughout your workday can help to reduce your pain.
Pay attention to the time!
Get up, change positions and move around often. Our bodies don't do well being static for extended periods. Our already present common problems are enhanced by it. Give your body opportunity for variety of position and movement. Movement is preventative medicine and a natural remedy.
Your team at MTS Physical Therapy & Wellness are experts in movement and health restoration. Look to us as a resource when your efforts in managing the trauma of work activities are not enough.
ABOUT MTS Physical Therapy & WEllness
MTS offers full physical therapy services, along with all inclusive wellness and gym memberships serving the Acadiana Area. Our approach is a concept that embraces all aspects of a person’s needs. We help you better understand the importance of body, mind and soul to your overall well-being.
With complete physical therapy services, relaxed settings, and supportive and encouraging staff at all locations, we will make it possible for you to get back to living LIFE again!