Getting your workstation set up correctly is the first part of looking after the health of your spine. The second part is introducing some good working habits which will cut down the loading of your joints and soft tissues and keep you pain free through your working life.
- Have you studied your work area? Can you rearrange your desk so you don’t have to stretch repeatedly for things that are used regularly? Put heavy items such as folders in a place that is easy to get at. Place commonly used items within easy reach.
- Are you a leg crosser? Make sure you are not crossing your legs habitually. This puts the spine on a twist and can set up back pain.
Do you take regular breaks? Organise your work so that you can change position every hour and break up the periods of sitting. We recommend taking mini-breaks away from your desk for 5 minutes in every hour. If you get absorbed in your work and forget the time set an alarm to remind you to get up and move.
- Drink plenty of water so that your tissues are hydrated and healthy and minimize tea and coffee which can be dehydrating.
- Make sure you are close enough to the screen and keyboard. If you are too far away you will be encouraged to slouch and this leads to a ‘poking chin posture’. Make sure that armrests fitted to the chair do not prevent you from pulling the chair in close to the desk.
- Is the mouse too far away from your side? Have it within easy reach with the elbow at 90°.
Be careful when using a wrist rest. Resting your wrists during mouse or keyboard use just places unwanted pressure on the front of the wrist where important tendons and nerves pass. The hands should hover over the mouse and keyboard, maintaining a flat angle at the wrist. Try using the function/shortcut keys on the keyboard to give your mouse use a rest.
- Do you cradle the phone between your ear and your shoulder? This can lead to pain and stiffness in the neck. If you use the phone for more than 40% of your day or have long conversations then it is worth getting a headset. This will free up your hands during the calls and place your neck in a better position. Place the phone on your non-dominant side if you take notes during calls.
- What kind of lifestyle do you lead? If you have a sedentary job it’s important to inject some regular exercise into your life that gets you out of that sitting posture – something like walking, running, yoga, Pilates or swimming.
- Simply doing some stretching exercises for your spine and upper limbs is a good habit to get into. It will help to keep your body supple and prevent stiffness creeping in with time.
If you work in an office or run your own business and would like us to carry out some workstation assessments or DSE assessments for your staff please call us on 020 8876 5690 or email us here for more information.
If you enjoyed this blog take a look at our other posture related blogs.