We all work in different environments. I spend most of my work day walking with a backpack and working out with clients or teaching yoga. A lot of us spend many hours sitting at a desk all day. I know as a student, when I wasn’t sitting at a desk looking at the computer screen or a professor or taking notes in a notebook, I was sitting on the couch with a book or watching TV. This wasn’t an ideal scenario – I experienced a lot of upper body aches and pains and tension headaches.
Many of our daily work habits put our bodies at risk for different musculoskeletal problems, such as pain in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and/or bones. Problems might arise from long periods of straightened arms, bent wrists, and hunched backs and necks. Prolonged over bending can cause pressure on spinal discs and stretching and fatigue of back ligaments and muscles. Prolonged extension of arms can cause aches and pains in all areas of arms, fatigue in shoulders, and tightness in back muscles, which can lead to neck problems and tension headaches.
Maybe you don’t think this is important, or think the pain doesn’t bother you. But it’s probably affecting your work and you don’t even know it. Sometimes the pain can decrease work product and increase sick days. Most of these are bound to happen when sitting at a desk, and the more types of prolonged strains placed on the body, the more likely you are to have a musculoskeletal problem.
There are several simple fixes that can prevent or alleviate aches and pains. For example changing the height of computer screens, changing keyboard location, rearranging work surface, and changing chairs. Computer screens should be about 2 feet away from eyes, so the top line is at eye level. Ideally keyboards have palm rests, or wrist braces can be worn while at the computer. Chairs should have base stability, a seat pan with slight angles and padding, and back and arms rests. If like me, your feet don’t reach the floor, try a foot rest.
Ideally your new situation will allow free movement so you don’t feel restricted or confined in your space. Your back will not be hunched, your head will be straight, and your arms will be relaxed so you get your job done…better.