Minimizing Back Pain at Your Desk
If you have an office job, then you’ve no doubt experienced times where you’ve dealt with neck, shoulder, or back pain after sitting for extended periods of time. Wondering what the solution might be to help ease the stiffness, tension, and nagging discomfort? The solution is to create a safer, more comfortable, and healthier work environment so you don’t have to deal with annoying aches and pains. Let’s work from the bottom up…
According to recent studies, you should try and keep your ankle joints at slightly greater than 90 degrees. Same for your knees…try keeping them at slightly over 90 degrees, and make sure the majority of your upper legs (backs of your thighs) are supported by your chair and should be parallel to the floor.
Let’s now focus on your lower back…many of us have horrendous sitting posture as we like to slouch in our chair. However, this causes undue stresses through our spine as well as the surrounding soft tissue–i.e., muscles, tendons, and ligaments. First and foremost, your butt should be all the way back and touching the back of your chair. If you’re on the shorter side and your feet now don’t touch the floor when you scoot on back, get a small footrest to place your feet on. You can also use a lumbar roll to place in the small of your back for added support. Don’t have a lumbar roll? No worries…a rolled-up towel will work just fine.
Now that we’ve taken care of the lower half, we need to focus on the upper half. Are you on the computer most of the day? Just as we focused on the knees and ankles, we also must focus on the elbows and wrists. Make sure your chair has armrests which should be just slightly higher than the level of your desk, making sure to keep your elbows at just slightly greater than 90 degrees and the level with your keyboard. Using a wrist rest will also help to keep your elbows level with your keyboard as you are typing.
Addressing your neck and shoulders, the most important consideration is the height and positioning of your computer screen. The top of your screen should be right at eye level and straight in front of you so you don’t have to twist your head to look at the screen or lean too far forward. If you spend lots of time on the phone during the day as well, consider getting a headset to avoid having to hunch your neck or hike your shoulder while you’re on the phone (especially if you are typing as well while on the phone).
The best overall tip is to avoid prolonged sitting in the first place. A good rule of thumb is to get up and stretch at least every 20-25 minutes. If this is not feasible, no more than 45 straight minutes of sitting without getting up for 5-10 minutes and moving around. I’ll let you know the best exercises you can do while sitting right at your desk in an upcoming blog post.
If you or someone you know is experiencing back pain, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help you. Don’t delay–schedule now! If you need some more help with back pain please call my clinic at (302)691-9055 to schedule an appointment or request my free information report which shows the 14 ways to ease back pain.