Here in the United States, the economy has heavily transitioned to many different types of desk jobs and away from factories, assembly lines, and traditional manual labor. While many of manual labor jobs still do exist, they are far outnumbered by the sheer amount of people sitting at desks and typing away. This has led to a unique set of problems for individuals who work desk jobs. Aches and pains associated with this type of work are becoming more problematic and more common. A whole new area of self care has become prominent through the education and application of ergonomics. Ergonomics is simply the practice of setting up your desk , or your environment, correctly, and the proper body mechanics that need to happen in order to not cause you pain and keep you safe.
Why are ergonomics so important?
Ergonomics take the time to look at how humans interact and function in their environment. It’s a lot about body mechanics and how people move when placed in different situations. This is so important because there are many motions that, especially with repetition, can cause pain and discomfort. This is because many of these movements are unnatural for the body, making it hard to do and even harder to do right. Humans now study optimal ways to improve body mechanics and eliminate unnatural motions from regular work environments.
What can you do about poor ergonomics?
The best part about poor desk ergonomics is that there is plenty you can do to correct the issue and help resolve any pain from improper body mechanics. The approach you need to take in order to address problems from poor ergonomics is two fold. The first thing you’ll want to do is correct what is causing the problem, and the second thing involves treatment for your pain with the help of medical professionals.
There are many different corrections you can make to your body mechanics for when you sit and work at your desk. These corrections can alleviate and prevent many pain problems in the neck, wrists, and back. Here are some common corrections you will want to address promptly.
Chair and Desk
Both your chair and your desk need to be set at the correct height. You should be able to touch the floor with your feet when you sit in your chair. If your chair doesn’t go low enough, then opt for a footrest to help. You’ll also want a chair where you can sit all the way back and your knees do not touch the seat. This will allow your legs to rest at a 90 degree angle. Ergonomic chairs are also beneficial because they are able to provide additional lower back support. However a small pillow may also do the trick. Your desk should be at the appropriate height so that when you sit in your chair, your arms are at roughly a 90 degree angle for typing. This may need to be accommodated with a keyboard tray mounted to the bottom of your desk.
When you set up your computer on your desk, you’ll want to make sure your computer screens are set up in the appropriate position. Your monitors should sit roughly 18 to 20 inches away from your body. This is a rough estimate, and you may have to adjust based on your vision. However, you should always have them elevated so that when you sit upright and look at your screen, you’re looking directly one-third of the way down the screen. This helps to protect your neck.
In order to protect your wrists, you should always have a 90 degree angle between your forearms and upper arms. In addition, you will want to keep your wrists in a neutral position. The best way to do this is with the help of wrist rests or ergonomic keyboards.
Along with making adjustments to your working space, there are many medical professionals who can help you work towards resolving any pain that poor body mechanics have caused. Your two best options are physical therapists and chiropractors.
Physical therapists can help you to strengthen muscle groups that may be weak from poor body mechanics. They can also work with you in order to help move your usage away from certain muscle groups and into more evenly dispersed muscle groups in order to not over use any specific muscle, ligament, or tendon. Your physical therapist can also work with you on proper ergonomics and overall inflammation reduction. Techniques such as ultrasound and massage may be part of your treatment plan.
When it comes to neck and back issues, a chiropractor can help you gain proper spine alignment and also work with you on proper ergonomics in your work environment.
Let Progressive Health and Rehab help you when you hurt from sitting at a desk all week. We have both chiropractors and physical therapists to help give you the holistic approach you deserve. Call us to schedule an appointment today.