You don’t move furniture or build houses for a living, so why does your body feel achy and sore day after day? For office workers, the culprit may be too much sitting. One in four American adults sits for longer than eight hours every day, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Americans sit for about 11 hours daily, much of this time at the office desk. Surprisingly, sitting for too long may have you seeking out the nearest chiropractor or massage therapist for relief.
Without the proper support and tools, sitting at your desk conducting everyday tasks can cause significant discomfort leading to long-term problems. Here are some common areas of the body affected by office work and tips on how to address them:
Wrist Pain. If you feel pain or achiness around your palm or wrist, including pain radiating up your forearm or tingling in your fingers, it could be how you are holding your body while using your mouse or keyboard. Consider: Lowering your workstation and switching to an ergonomic keyboard.
Shoulder Pain: Slouching, forward head tilt, and cradling the phone receiver are all culprits that cause pain in the should area. Consider: once again, raising your workstation to avoid slouching and using a headset to help alleviate the strain on your neck and shoulder area.
Lower Back Pain. Discomfort and pain in the lower back can disrupt the quality of your life, both inside the office and outside. If you are experiencing pain or have shooting pain down your legs, it is most likely due to sitting too long at one time. The muscles of the legs and hips are the main muscled used when you sit, and when you sit for too long, you overstretch and strain these muscles, which may cause them to become tight and short and cause problems for your hip joints and back. Consider: Taking a two-minute stretch break once an hour and switching to a chair that provides you sufficient lumbar support.
One of the most effective things people who work in an office environment can do to keep their bodies pain-free is to move. In addition, to stretch breaks every hour, more and more employers are offering standing desks and encouraging “walking meetings” throughout the day to discuss business-related issues.
And for those of you who work from home, it may be time to rethink your home office. It is easy when working from home to take your laptop to the couch or the kitchen table, which is not conducive to proper posture and alignment. Consider setting up a workstation that utilizes ergonomically designed desks and tools for proper alignment.
With more and more emphasis on employee health and well-being, employers are much more open to rethinking workplace design and culture and encouraging their employees and co-workers to sit less and move more throughout the day.
Is your company a policyholder with SAIF, Oregons’ Nonprofit Workers Compensation Carrier? If so, you have access to their free online assessment tool free online tool that can help your employees set up their workstations. Contact EPB&B for Oregon Worker’s Compensation plans and ideas and to keep your business and employees safe and healthy.