It’s easy to see how heavy lifting and physical labor can contribute to back pain and other spinal problems. Yet millions of us will sit at our jobs and can suffer similar kinds of back problems. With the stay at home order still in effect, millions more of us find ourselves working from a computer instead of chalkboard, using a mouse instead of a pen, and spending long periods of time just sitting. Here are some tips from you to help you cope with the changes and navigate this new way of working:
Start With Your Chair
In the same way you adjust your car seat, mirror, and steering wheel to suit your size and shape, make sure the chair you sit in all day fits YOU. The key issue is support. Use a chair that offers lumbar support just above your hips. This helps reduce the likelihood of slumping forwarded and increasing stress to the muscle and ligaments of your lower back. Additionally, the chair has back support – use it. Sit all the way back in the chair with your back touching and supported by the backrest. Don’t perch on the edge of your seat as this may cause tightness in your hip flexors and gluteal muscles.
Measure Your Work Surface
The height of your chair depends on the height of your work surface. IF you do a lot of work with a telephone, mouse or calculator, you want the ability for your forearm and elbows to rest on your work surface. If you type or use a computer keyboard, it is best if your upper arm and forearm for a 75-to 90-degree angle.
One of the most overlooked causes of neck problems is cradling the telephone between your shoulder and your ear, or just holding that phone up to your face for prolonged periods of time. This position can stress the muscle and soft tissues in the neck and shoulder area. Nerve supply to your head and your hands can be affected. If your tasks frequently require you to be on the phone, consider the speaker option or a headset.
View Your Computer Screen As You Would a Piece of Art
If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, make sure it is located properly. A common problem is positioning the screen too low, forcing us to compromise the curve of the neck by looking down. Instead, position your monitor so you are looking up slightly with your head in the same position it would be in if you were admiring a painting or photo hanging on the wall. Those who wear bifocals often suffer the opposite problem, constantly tilting their head back to look up in order to bring the screen into focus.
If you are working off of a laptop, I can tell you the keyboard is too small, the mouse is tedious and the screen isn’t big enough or high enough. Please get yourself a docking station with an adjustable height monitor, and a regular-sized keyboard and an adequate mouse.
It Might Come Down to Your Feet
Surprisingly, one of the ways to reduce stressful sitting on the job is how you use and position your feet. Many people find it helpful to use a short stool or a block to raise one foot about 4-6 inches off the ground. Switch feet during the course of your day to reduce pressure on your lumbar spine.
Few people realize how stressful sitting can be. If you sit most of the day, organize your workspace to reduce stress on your spine and pelvis. Additionally, have your spine checked regularly for subluxations to prevent little problems before they become serious.
~Thanks to Patient Media Inc. for this content.
Dr. Hoch (pronounced Hoke), is a 1988 Graduate of Peotone High School and a 1990 Graduate of Joliet Junior College. She received both her B.S. in Human Biology (1991) and her Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) (1993) from The National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, IL. She also received her graduate and post-graduate certifications in Acupuncture from NCC.