If you sit in an office chair at work, chances are you experience stiffness, soreness and pain at times. The dilemma with sitting for any length of time is that your body isn’t in an ideal position for your joints and muscles. This sets you up for potential problems with your back, legs, shoulders, neck and arms. You probably don’t have the choice to stop working or buy an expensive treadmill desk, so what should you do?
The solution includes a good ergonomic set up, mobilization of your joints, and stretching your muscles throughout the day.
Proper ergonomics depends on your workplace, job duties, and physical stature. A well fitted chair, proper computer and keyboard position, a small mouse, as well as customized height adjustments are a few necessary factors. Our Occupational Therapists provide individual ergonomic assessments and advice.
Movement throughout the day is also a key to success. Many of us become so involved with work that we forget to change postures, stretch, or rise from sitting at our desk. Gentle movement in the opposite direction of prolonged postures (i.e. gently looking ceiling to floor with your head and neck) are necessary to avoid joint dysfunction and stiff muscular groups.
Stretching is helpful to keep our muscles from shortening and joints stiffening. Stretches should be done gently to tolerance and held between 10-30 seconds. For stretching ideas, check out this handout on Workplace-Stretching
Most importantly, taking short breaks to get up and out of that dreaded chair is vital! We recommend setting and alarm or timer to remind you to take a standing or walking break hourly. This will be a fantastic way to help you avoid robot mode, and ensure you are not in pain at the end of the day.
Remember, if it feels pain-free and helpful to tilt and hold your ear towards your shoulder, do it more often!