Sitting at your desk doesn’t have to be a pain in your neck

Do you feel squeaky, sore and stiff at the end of the workday? Sitting most of the day is detrimental to your health, but other work-related factors can also compromise your well-being, according to experts at Mayo.

Working at a desk is a common cause of back and neck pain, often because you adjust to your workstation rather than the other way around.

For example, many people struggle to see a computer screen that is too far away, too low, too high, too small, or too dark. This compromises good posture.

The average human head weighs almost 12 pounds, the equivalent of a bowling ball. When your neck is bent at 45 degrees, your head exerts almost 50 pounds of force on your neck. In addition to straining the joints and muscles in your neck and shoulders, the pressure affects your breathing and mood.

To alleviate this stress, consider redesigning your workspace to encourage a well-aligned posture. The ergonomics (level of efficiency and comfort) of a typical workstation can be improved in several ways.

Try these workspace adjustment tips to better align your posture:

Position your monitor so that you can see it well without forcing it. Raise or lower the monitor or your chair so that your eyes are level with the top of the screen. If you wear bifocals, you may need to lower the monitor an additional 1-2 inches. Move the monitor closer or farther so that you can easily read the screen. Increase the size of the font you are using. If you are using a laptop, connect it to a larger monitor.

Position your mouse and keyboard so that you don’t have to stand up to use them. Lower your desk height or raise your chair so that your forearms are parallel to the floor or slightly pointed down and your wrists are not pointing up or down.

Keep frequently used tools nearby to minimize reach. Keep your mouse close and change it regularly from one side of your body to the other. Use a headset if you talk on the phone frequently. Find shortcut keys you can use while typing. Use a briefcase so you don’t have to frequently look down.

Make sure your chair allows you to maintain the normal curves of your spine. Your chair should adapt to the shape of your body, such as the curve of your lower back. Raise or lower your chair so that you do not sit straight at a 90 degree angle, but rather with a slightly reclined posture of 100 to 110 degrees.

Make sure your feet are touching the ground when you are seated. Consider using a stool if you’ve raised your chair and your feet are no longer reaching the floor. Hold a few inches between the back of your knees and the chair.

If your chair has armrests, make sure they allow your shoulders to relax. Consider lowering or getting rid of the armrests so that your neck and shoulders can relax down.

Try these tips to give yourself a break from sitting or watching a screen:

Set a timer and get up to move around every 30 minutes. Take a meeting on foot, or stand or exercise during a conference call.

Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20-second break by focusing on something at least 20 feet away.

Create a standing workstation. Whether you invest in a standing desk or use tools like a laptop stand to be able to work while standing, your posture can benefit.

About Marion Alexander

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