Do you feel creaky, sore, and stiff at the end of the work day? Sitting for most of the day is detrimental to your health, but other work-related factors can also affect your well-being, say Mayo experts.
Working at a desk is a common cause of back and neck pain, often because you accommodate your work place, not the other way around.
For example, many people make an effort to see a computer monitor that is too far away, too low, too high, too small, or too dark. This affects good posture.
The average human head weighs nearly 12 pounds – the equivalent of a bowling ball. When your neck is bent 45 degrees, your head is exerting nearly 50 pounds of force on your neck. In addition to stressing the joints and muscles in the neck and shoulders, the pressure affects breathing and mood.
To relieve this stress, you should redesign your workspace to encourage well-aligned posture. The ergonomics – efficiency and comfort – of a typical workplace can be improved in a number of ways.
Customize your workspace
Try these tips to better align your posture:
• Position your monitor so that you can see it easily without any effort. Raise or lower the monitor or chair so your eyes are level with the top of the screen. If you wear bifocal glasses, you may need to lower the monitor an additional 1 to 5 inches. Move the monitor closer or farther away so that you can see the screen easily. Increase the font size used. If you’re using a laptop, connect it to a larger monitor.
• Position your mouse and keyboard so you don’t have to reach up to use them. Lower your desk height or raise your chair so that your forearms are parallel to the floor or pointing slightly down, and your wrists are not pointing up or down.
• Keep frequently used tools within easy reach to minimize reach. Keep your mouse nearby and move it from side to side on a regular basis. Use a headset if you make frequent calls. Look for keyboard shortcuts to use while typing. Use a document holder so that you don’t have to look down frequently.
• Make sure your chair allows you to maintain the normal curves of your spine, such as the curve of your lower back. Raise or lower your chair so that you are not sitting upright at a 90-degree angle, but in a slightly reclined position of 100 to 110 degrees.
• When sitting, make sure your feet are touching the floor. Consider using a stool after you’ve raised your chair and your feet no longer reach the floor. Keep a few inches between the back of your knees and the chair.
• If your chair has armrests, allow your shoulders to relax. Consider lowering or getting rid of the armrests to allow your neck and shoulders to relax downward.
Take a break
To take a break from sitting or looking at a screen, try these tips:
• Set a timer and wake up every 30 minutes. Attend a meeting on foot, stand up during a conference call, or exercise.
• Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20-second break by focusing on something at least 6 meters away.
• Create a standing work station.
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