Working in an office or just using a computer for a few hours a day can wreak havoc on our bodies.
Chances are that you’re spending a good chunk of your day at your desk and computer – answering emails, fixing your excel spreadsheets and searching for summer holiday deals. In fact, you probably spend more time slumped at your desk than anything else in your life… that’s a lot of time spent sitting in a chair that’s too low, with a desk that’s too high and your neck bent down looking at a screen from an uncomfortable angle.
You could be setting yourself up for all kinds of problems: eyestrain, shoulder pain, back pain, neck pain… is this sounding familiar?
The good news is, there’s some straightforward stuff that can help.
1. CHECK YOUR CHAIR
If you can sit at the proper height and type those emails without scrunching your shoulders up – that’s a great start. Your shoulders should be relaxed and pulled back and you should be sitting up tall with your forearms parallel to the ground so that you don’t need to reach up to your keyboard or shrug your shoulders. You may spend more than a third of your day sitting in this chair, so do what you can to make sure it’s not destroying your spine!
You don’t need to spend lots of cash but you do need a chair that has an adjustable height so that your feet are comfortably on the floor, there’s enough decent padding to sit on and good lower back support.
2. CHECK YOUR COMPUTER
If you work at a laptop, you could be spending your day hunched over a tiny keyboard with a dinky screen that’s woefully low. Even if you work at a desktop computer, it’s highly likely that your monitor isn’t high enough.
So, if you’re tilting your head down to look at your screen, it’s time for action. You want your monitor to be high enough so that you can look straight ahead and not have to adjust your neck angle to view the screen. And if you’re working on a laptop, investing in a separate keyboard and mouse will save you from all that hunching up.
You don’t need anything fancy to lift your screen. Whilst writing this article, I just added some books underneath my laptop (The Good Pub Guide 2009 and One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, if you’re interested).
And if you really want to get technical – try this site. You put in your height and it works out the optimum height of your chair, keyboard and monitor:
3. CHECK OUT YOUR MOVES
But of course, this is the real clincher: don’t stay in the same position for hours!
The best plan for back health is to alter your immediate environment – move around, stand up, stretch up, wiggle out. Set a timer for every 30 minutes to get up and do something: shoulder rolls, neck rolls, twists. If you’re in an open-plan office, you could even get your colleagues involved!
And build some real time into your week to concentrate on maintaining your back and to prevent future back pain. Yoga can be hugely beneficial and it’s never too late to start. You don’t even need to do advanced poses to feel the benefit – in fact, the simplest yoga poses are often the most effective for back care.
Yoga uses gentle, repetitive routines to balance and benefit the whole body and by lengthening connective tissue and improving posture, it can begin to protect against back injury. At on route, we offer a weekly yoga for backcare class specifically designed to relieve back pain, including preventative care, education and relaxation.
Taking care of yourself every day is important and making small changes to your daily and weekly routines can reap huge rewards – making those changes now might prevent a whole lot of pain in the future.
For more information about all the classes at on route – including Yoga for Back Pain – go to our “classes” section at www.onroutehealth.co.uk.