Is pain controlling your work day? Here are our tips to help you take control of your pain.
Firstly, to understand why you have pain at work or pain that worsens with work or in your work environment it is important to acknowledge the why.
1. Prolonged sitting
Our bodies function best with regular movement, so sitting for lengthy periods of time can cause pain. One of the reasons this occurs is posture, when sitting we often become slouched or hunched and this is more common to occur the longer we’re sat in one position, as muscles tire.
For every 30 minutes of sitting at your desk you should take 1-2 minutes on your feet. Some easy ways to integrate this include changing your work set up so you to walk to the printer or stand whilst on the phone. Alternatively, you can use a standing desk or sit-stand desk.
2. Driving long distances
When we drive for work we often forget that our car set up is equally as important as our office ergonomics. And ignore the importance of posture when driving and the need to break up longer drives with regular stops.
It is recommended that we stop once every 2 hours and more regularly thereafter. Traffic can be unpredictable so planning ahead and scheduling these breaks into your drive is a great way to know you are getting regular stops.
3. Using a computer without regular breaks
Our desk and computer use posture is often neglected especially in environments where we hot-desk. Computer related jobs increase your risk of neck, back and arm pain as well as headaches in the workplace.
Your workstation set up is important in preventing excessive strain when working. This includes:-
· A chair with adequate spinal support
· Sitting with your feet flat
· Forearms supported by armrests
· Hands & wrists in a neutral position on mouse and keyboard
· Screen height should be at eyelevel or slightly below
· For laptop users stands and USB keyboards are available
4. Awkward lifting and carrying
We often neglect how we lift and carry. As an Osteopath my patients are most surprised when the lightest of objects have caused back pain. This often occurs as we don’t assume correct lifting techniques or positions when lifting light and small objects.
You can prevent awkward lifting and carrying by;
· Keep load close to your body
· Use legs to bend and lift
· Equal distribution of load in your hold
· Ensure good hold before moving load
· Lower load to adjust hold
· Ask for help when load is too heavy or awkward
5. Overstretching to undertake tasks
If we were meant to work under stretch and to an extension of our reach we would be Stretch Armstrong. That we are not, this means our muscles are not designed to be loaded or recruited when a muscles is on stretch. Using a muscle in this way compresses blood flow and reduces the muscle power output of the muscle.
Instead of overstretching to undertake tasks, re-positioning your body to allow adequate reach or using aid to move yourself closer to the object or task at hand.
6. Bending and twisting without care
Bending and twisting are often inbuilt movement patterns that we learn at a young age, so we often forget in our work environment that care should be taken particularly when lifting, carrying or adjusting a load or following prolonged sitting as our bodies aren’t use to sudden short movements after periods of stillness.
You can prevent bending and twisting without care by;
· Taking care and concentrating on task at hand
· Using your legs to bend and turn when lifting/carrying
· Desk based stretching
· Get up and move
7. Extended periods of repeated motion
When we repeatedly do an activity over a long time muscles ache with use, however without adequate rest we risk overuse and fatigue related injury. When we do a job or a trade where we require repeated motion patterns or activities we can expose ourselves to similar risk.
Our advice to avoid extended periods of repeated motions includes;
· Taking regular breaks
· Alternating activities
· Alternating work position
· Alternating motor skills between left and right (handedness)