Work can sometimes be a pain in the neck – literally. Depending on the type of work you do, whether manual labor or sitting at a desk all day, it can also lead to back pain. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, here are 10 easy ways you can reduce the amount of neck and back pain that comes with the job:
- Improve your posture. Avoid slouching or leaning forward when seated at your desk. Instead, plant your feet flat on the floor and keep your back flushed against your chair. Also, align your head in a neutral position with your ears directly above your shoulders. When walking from meeting to meeting, focus on standing up strait, shoulders back. Be sure to take deep breaths with each step.
- Ensure your workspace is ergonomically correct. Start by making sure your monitor height and keyboard placement are adjusted properly. Your monitor should be directly in front of you and the center of the screen should be about level with your nose to avoid having to angle your head downward. If the monitor is too low, it could increase stress on your neck. As for your keyboard, it should be close enough that your elbows are bent 90 degrees when typing and high enough so that you aren’t slumping down to strike the keys. Also, the mouse should be at the same level as the keyboard and not too far out of reach.
- Stand up more often. Not only is constant sitting fatiguing, but the longer you’re sitting, the harder it is to maintain proper posture. Spend at least two hours of your work day on your feet.
- Prevent “tech neck.” Most people bend their heads when viewing their phones and tablets or using the touchscreen to text or email. This can cause muscle strains and eventually lead to disc or joint problems, commonly referred to as “tech neck.” When using your handheld devices, try to keep them at eye-level. Whenever possible, answer your emails on a desktop computer so you can maintain good posture.Neck and Back Pain at Work
- Keep moving. This will help reduce your risk of developing back, neck or shoulder pain from too much sitting. Try climbing a flight of stairs to use a different bathroom, map to a printer down the hall, or visit a colleague instead of messaging them.
- Be careful when lifting at work. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and keep any items you’re lifting close to your body to reduce the strain. Ask for assistance when necessary; use dollies and pushcarts when possible.
- Exercise at home and/or at work. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes every day to keep your muscles strong and limber, and also to protect your spine. Keep small weights or an exercises band at your desk; try taking a walk when engaged in a long teleconference (be sure to keep your phone on mute). Many companies offer incentives for gym memberships or provide wellness programs.
- Take stretching breaks. Every 30 minutes or so, stand up at your desk and stretch to invigorate muscles lulled by prolonged sitting and unconscious slouching at your desk. To counteract the natural hunched position of sitting, extend your arms out wide and stretch out your chest muscles and arch backwards to stretch your spine at least once every workday.
- Stay hydrated. Throughout the day, keep sipping from a large jug or water bottle. Keeping your body hydrated helps protect your spinal cord and acts as a lubricant that cushions your joints. Adding lemon wedges, cucumber slices or natural flavors can enhance your sipping experience.
- Start your day nice and easy. Body structures, including your neck and back, tend to be less flexible and more prone to injury first thing in the morning. Even if you have an early morning exercise routine before work, start off your day slowly and gradually build up to more strenuous tasks.
STAR Spine & Sport specializes in a variety of non-invasive treatments for both chronic and acute back and neck pain ranging from back braces and medication to massage and physical therapy. To find the treatment that can work for you, schedule a consultation by calling us at 303-238-4277.