The greatest modern cause of back and neck injuries is sitting, specifically sitting hunched over computers and mobile devices. So, back pain is coming to the fore as a workplace injury, even for those who are not in “heavy lifting” jobs which used to be more traditionally associated with back injuries.
A few years ago, many formal workplace environments embraced this knowledge, putting ergonomics (or comfortable spinal and body health) at the forefront of their office design.
However, many modern workers, such as freelancers, still do not work from formal office settings. Thus, the rise of the home office, despite bringing many benefits, has not seen the same focus on ergonomics and spinal safety.
Well… it is just as critical for ergonomic principles to be followed wherever you work and not just in big office settings. Otherwise, crushing spinal pain, shoulder pain and neck disorders are bound to occur, with severe pain and loss of movement following.
Such principles also improve our efficiency, prevent dangerous stress and strain on our muscles and joints, and reduce a category of injuries we call “lifestyle disorders”.
How Can I Cut Down on These Unhealthy Spinal Habits?
The most common mistake we make is sitting for long periods of time, without breaks and often without moving at all (or maybe only moving as much as is needed to reach a pencil or pen on the desk).
But, you can adjust your workstation to match the principles used in larger, ergonomically-designed offices. To do so, observe the following four rules:
#1 Keep your knees, hips and elbows at 90-degree angles, as you sit. (Remember, 90/90/90.)
#2 Move closer to your workstation to avoid eye strain.
#3 Keep an arm’s length distance (i.e., about 20″ to 22″) between your eyes and the screen.
[Image credit : AlbertaChiropractors]
#5 Do not get too comfortable. Sofas, beds, and recliners are awesome, but not for working on. Make sure you use a chair with proper back support, while working.
#6 Take breaks often. You should stretch and walk around for five minutes, after sitting for one hour. Consider taking a proper walk and hydrating your body with water or a soothing drink, such as lemon water or green tea.
#7 Work on your posture. Sitting hunched will lead to shoulder and back pain.
#8 Keep your back straight and comfortable at all times. Do not twist your spine.
#9 Consider adding a back reset or use a rolled towel to support your lower back and help you sit with proper posture, especially if you often have pain in your lower back.
#10 Relax your shoulders and keep them comfortable, try not to let stressful deadlines or phone calls cause them to creep up and stay locked up and tight.
#11 Make your work environment comfortable, including adding a few personal touches. Working in a space that is cluttered and stressful will translate into the body positions you use.
#12 If budget allows, invest in some proper ergonomically designed equipment to support you. You can consider purchasing items like footrests for shorter people and ergonomic keyboards or desks.
#13 Listen to your body; if you find you are developing aches and pains in the body, it is time to take a break and rethink your posture.
If you follow these simple steps, you will be well on your way to a more comfortable and productive working day.
Do you have any questions or want to know more? Leave your comments below and I will be happy to respond.