How to Avoid the Daily Backache
You may be excited about coming in and getting some quality work done in the office, but that doesn’t mean your back is. Sure, you’ll cut through those sales spreadsheets and the monthly expense reports like a hot knife slicing through warm butter, but your back…?
Well, it will have to face the brutal gauntlet of your office chair and the angle of your desk, and that’s just for starters. Needless to say, the day probably won’t be a picnic for your wrists, neck and feet either. Fortunately, with a few simple ergonomic tricks, a productive day in the office doesn’t have to be a painful one.
Your office chair is your best friend and also your worst enemy, so find one with good arm rests. You’ll want to make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. The effort of holding your arms in a certain position is wearying. As the day progresses, your arms will droop and the muscles in your neck and shoulders will be stuck picking up the slack— a perfect recipe for pain.
Speaking of your chair, you’ll also want to adjust it so that it isn’t too high or too low. Ideally, it should be high enough so your feet aren’t dangling above the floor, and it should be low enough so that your thighs are perfectly parallel to the floor. If the height of your desk requires you to raise the height of your chair, invest in a handy footrest.
When it comes to your desk, height really does matter. Your monitor should be directly in front of you and positioned so that the middle part of the screen is perfectly level with your eyes when you keep your head straight. It should also be at least an arm’s length away to avoid eye strain. You shouldn’t have to look up or down either. If at all possible keep your keyboard directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to crane your neck and shoulder at awkward angles while you work. Save the awkward angles for your yoga instructor.
It may be tempting (or even sometimes necessary) to remain laser-focused on the task at hand, but try to avoid sitting like a statue in the park all day. Move around during the day. Stretch, bend or flex— whatever it takes to keep your muscles and joints from locking up. If you have one of the more modern ergonomic desks you can even alternate between standing and sitting. That aforementioned statue in the park won’t wake up in the morning in pain, but there’s a good chance you might if you don’t move around some.
No, you’re not playing football or working as a stuntman on a major motion picture, but you’d be surprised the damage a simple day at the office can cause. These simple ergonomic tips may seem like small things, but they can make a huge difference in the quality of your work life. Implement them today. Your back (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it.