Sitting at your desk for hours on end is doing your body no favours. Poor space set up, lack of movement, and looking at a computer screen can lead to long term physical and mental health conditions.
While an osteopath can help you manage the aches and pains that develop, learning what causes the problems in the first place will help you lessen the damage done to your body in the first place.
One British study found that 81% of British workers sit at their desks for 4 to 9 hours a day. This adds up to a whopping 67 days a year of desk sitting! It is probably safe to assume that these stats are similar in many other countries, including the US and Canada.
While it is becoming increasingly common for businesses to consider work space and make it more ergonomic, it still is far from ideal.
What A Poorly Designed Workstation Can Do
A poorly designed workstation can have several negative effects on the body. These include:
- Trapped nerves
- Back pain
- Shoulder and neck disorders
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Eye strain
Once these issues start they creep into your non-working life as well. Pain may cause trouble sleeping, depression could even take hold, and burnout are very real possibilities that will have an effect on your quality of life.
How To Reduce Workstation Problems
While it might not be possible to completely prevent the issues that prolonged desk sitting can have, it is possible to reduce the risks.
Get Up Every Hour
Every hour you should stand up for a few minutes. This helps increase circulation and stretches your body. If permitted, take a short walk around the office, incorporating work into this if you have strict workplace rules.
Your Chair & How You Use It Are Important
Ideally, your workplace will provide you with a suitably ergonomic chair, but not everyone is so lucky. If you work from home, investing in a good chair will be worth the expense in the long run.
Regardless of what type of office chair you have, sitting in it properly will help relieve any pressure on your body.
Place your chair so you are facing your screen without having to twist your body. Place both your feet evenly and flatly on the floor. Using a footrest is also a great addition.
One of the most important features of your work chair should be lumbar support. Make sure you can sit comfortably without slouching for long periods.
How you place your computer screen is also one the biggest factors when it comes to setting up a more body friendly workstation. Screens should be at least 30 inches away from your face.
It should be at a comfortable height so you can look straight ahead and not up or down, which will negatively affect your neck and shoulders.
In other words, it should be directly at your eye height.
It is very easy to look at a screen for long periods, even hours without realising. To reduce eye strain, give your eyes a break every 20-minutes by looking away from the screen. There is a recommended rule for this; the 20-20-20 rule.
This means take a break every 20 minutes and look at something 20-feet away for at least 20-seconds. Also become more aware of how often you blink and make sure you increase this as many people only blink 7 times a minute while looking at a screen.
Cut Out Glare
Glare is another big culprit that causes issues, in particular eye strain. Reduce glare by using curtains and placing lights to the side, and not behind or in front of the screen.
Use eye friendly screen colours and avoid blue backgrounds with dark text like red. Also adjust the brightness and contrast to suit the light in your environment.
Keyboard Type and Placement
The Keyboard should be wrist and finger friendly with plenty of room in front of it to support the wrists. The same goes for the mouse, which should be placed so you can use it without bending your wrist.
The space under the desk should be enough so that you can comfortably place your feet and legs in the correct position and sit at a comfortable distance from it.
An osteopath can help manage any of the injuries, aches, or pains that can arise from long hours at your desk. He or She can also advise you on ways to improve your posture while working that can reduce pain or recurrence of issues.