If you spend several hours a day in front of a computer or on a laptop you are likely to be no stranger to pain in your neck, back or shoulder and even headaches. Inappropriate computer and mobile device use can not only cause muscle and joint pain, but also result in serious overuse injuries. The good news is that there are lots of ways to reduce the negative impact screen time can have on your body. Today, we reveal 5 simple things you can do right now to ensure your neck and back don’t suffer as a result of your office job.
Set up your workstation correctly
One of the most important steps to take in order to avoid causing yourself unnecessary back and neck pain is to set up your workstation ergonomically.
- Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet can rest comfortably on the floor (you may need to get a footrest if your feet don’t reach the floor)and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- You may also need to adjust your seat tilt to make you are comfortable when using the keyboard and able to sit up straight.
- Your knees should be bent at a comfortable 90º angle.
- Your arms should gently rest on the armrests with your shoulders relaxed.
- Make sure you have sufficient room under your desk for your knees, thighs, and feet. If the desk is too low you can place boards or blocks under the desk legs. If the desk is too high, you can raise your chair and use a footrest as needed.
- The monitor needs to be positioned directly in front of you, directly behind your keyboard at about an arm’s length away. You must be able to look straight ahead at your monitor and easily focus on the screen, if not, you will need to alter the distance of the monitor. Position your monitor so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level and the bottom of the screen can be read without any significant inclination of the head. The centre of the screen will most likely need to be at shoulder height in order to achieve this. Position your monitor should be directly behind your keyboard.
Keyboard and mouse:
- Make sure your mouse is as close to the keyboard as possible and sitting on the same surface as your keyboard. When typing, your wrists need to be straight with your upper arms sitting close to your body and your hands level with or slightly below your elbows.
- You should be able to comfortably use your mouse without having to put too much pressure on your wrist and forearm muscles in order to operate it. If you mouse is too large or bulky it may cause your wrist to be bent an angle that results in muscle strain so it is important to choose a slim-line mouse that requires only a light touch to operate.
Practice good phone habits
If you find that you spend a lot of the day talking on your mobile phone and typing or doing other things at the same time it is a good idea to put your phone on speaker or use a headset. That way you don’t end up cradling your phone between your head and your neck.
You should also avoid answering emails from your phone or tablet. When you’re in the office attempt to limit the amount of work you’re doing using mobile devices as working on your computer is the best way to ensure good posture.
Take breaks and stretch
It’s important to get up from your desk and walk around or stretch at intervals throughout the day. Maintaining any kind of head-forward posture for too long can result in excessive fatigue and even injury.
Get some ergonomic tools
Consider what are the most important elements of your workplace setup in allowing you to maintain good posture while working and work comfortably. It may be worth investing in items such as an ergonomic chair (so your spine can maintain a natural curve at all times while you are sitting), an ergonomic keyboard (so that your hands and wrists sit in a more natural position), computer and mouse pad forearm and wrist supports, or a standing desk.
Seek advice from a physio for neck and back pain
A physiotherapist is in the best position to assess your posture and evaluate your current work habits. At Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre we offer free postural assessments and can advise you on how to avoid straining your neck muscles, neck strengthening exercises, ways to protect your back and work to restore proper movement.
Consulting a physio for neck pain or back pain is the best way to ascertain whether your daily working habits are contributing to your symptoms and develop an effective plan to reduce the adverse effects that screen time has on your body. New customers, book your free postural assessment today.