Make Your Workday Less Stressful on Your Neck & Back

It’s a fact of modern life that most of us spend a significant portion of our day sitting in front of a computer — whether you work from home or in a traditional office setting. A sedentary lifestyle can contributes to many spine conditions including back pain, neck pain, facet syndrome, and more. Creating a good ergonomic working space is an important part of protecting your overall health.

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace ergonomics as: “The science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.”

Unfortunately, most workspaces are set up in ways that contribute to — rather than prevent — physical aches, pains and even injuries. Have you considered how the arrangement of your chair, desk, computer and general work space may be contributing to pain in your neck, shoulders, wrists and lower back? Consider the suggested improvements below to help maximize your productivity, efficiency, and comfort while you work.

Declutter your desktop

  • keep items you use frequently comfortably within reach
  • less frequently used items should be placed out of the way of your repetitive movements

Seat yourself properly

  • understand all the options for adjusting your chair and find the right fit for you
  • maintain a couple of inches of space from the the front of the seat to the back of your knees
  • use the chair’s lumbar support (or add a backrest cushion) to comfortably support your lower back
  • a slight recline away from your desk is better than a stiff 90 degree posture
  • feet should rest flat on the floor, hip width apart
  • seat height should place your knees at about a 90 degree angle, or even slightly below your hips to improve blood circulation

Keep your upper body in a neutral position 

  • center the keyboard directly in front of you
  • arrange your chair height so that your wrists are in a neutral position when your hands are on the keyboard (use a wrist rest in front of the keyboard if necessary)
  • maintain a 90 degree angle at your elbows when your hands are on your keyboard
  • keep the mouse close to the keyboard
  • use your elbow, not your wrist, to move the mouse (use keyboard shortcuts as much as possible)
  • consider attaching a keyboard/mouse tray system to your work surface that is height adjustable 
  • your shoulders should be in a relaxed position
  • if you are on the phone a lot, use a headset rather than cradling the phone against your shoulder
  • keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support (the neck)

Avoid neck and eye strain 

  • Set your monitor at the correct height — the top of the screen should be about eye-level
  • tilt your monitor back 10-20 degrees
  • position the monitor about arm’s length away
  • avoid glare off the screen by positioning it away from bright light
  • if it’s in front of a window, lower the shades to prevent glare from behind the screen
  • give your eyes a break periodically by looking at objects at a distance for several seconds
  • place paper documents that you are reading as close to the computer monitor as possible — use a document holder when possible

Get up & move around! 

  • frequent “micro-breaks” to stretch your hands and your neck are beneficial
  • several times a day take longer breaks to stand up and stretch, walk to talk to a colleague instead of e-mailing, or take a stroll to get a drink of water (hydration is important during the workday, too)

A note on laptops: 

Both at home and, increasingly in offices, laptop use is on the rise. Unfortunately, their design is inherently not ergonomically-friendly.  When the screen is at a comfortable height and distance the keyboard is not, and vice versa. If you use a laptop for sustained periods of time, the addition either an external monitor or an external keyboard would be beneficial. Of course, the same guidelines for chair placement and body angles apply.

Non-Surgical Pain Treatment at Busch Chiropractic Fort Wayne

Consider the amount of time you spend seated in front of your computer each day and what steps you could take to make that less stressful on your body. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort from prolonged use of a poorly designed work space, let us help. At Busch Chiropractic Fort Wayne, we can identify the source of your pain and our non-surgical treatments can help heal your body and prevent future pain. No matter what demands you are placing on your body, our goal is for you to always be comfortable and pain-free.