Many Americans are now working office jobs that force them to be sedentary at a desk all day long. Poor sitting or slouched posture, commonly seen with these sedentary office jobs can produce pain in the spine.
Here are 5 simple ways you can prevent desk injuries:
- Maintain a clean desk and office space.
Many people may not think about it, but having a disorganized desk can cause injury. For example: reaching for something while seated in an unstable chair and bumping or tripping against an open desk or file drawer. Keeping a tidy desk and office will reduce your risk of injury.
- If your body begins to hurt, change your position or stop that movement.
Many desk injuries occur because of repetitive and forceful movement tasks. These events occur with higher frequency in the shoulder, neck, and hand. Simply changing the way you perform a repetitive motion, when you notice extra fatigue or pain, like using a trackpad vs. a mouse, can make a difference.
- Arrange your desk to function for you.
Desk arrangement can be essential to preventing injury. Objects on or around your desk can hurt you such as electrical cords, open file drawers, and stationery. Additionally, keep your space clear of objects and place your computer squarely in front of you.
- Schedule Breaks.
Making time for rest is a vital tool for preventing injuries at your desk. Effective use of breaks can prevent and reverse some of the effects of repetitive tasks and overload at work. High stress is known to increase the risk of injuries; for this reason, you can use your breaks to reduce stress. Furthermore, while on your break, you can perform micro-stretches to move the neck, back, and shoulder joints.
- Keep moving!
The body is not meant to stay still. Sitting for long periods of time even with “good” posture will lead to stiffness which can cause pain and injury. Our bodies need to move to remain flexible and maintain necessary circulation to joints and tissues.
Roberto Molina, Physical Therapist, recommends the best desk work ratio to be about 50% seated vs. 50% standing.
Finally, following the listed tips, getting up from your desk once per hour and stretching will keep you energized, and you will be less susceptible to back injury. An occasional 20-minute walk is also encouraged to increase blood flow to otherwise stationary muscles.
Take these steps to heart and you will feel better and be more productive!
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For information about our rehabilitation services, please visit us at www.CatholicHealthServices.org
Information provided by Roberto Molina, PT, DPT, Board Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist at St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Hospital in North Miami, Florida.