We tend to think of injuries as things we get when we fall over, or engage in a serious sport. You can in fact, get injured over time, just by sitting with the wrong posture. The average person will spend 16 hours a day sitting or standing, that’s 2/3rds of your life! The more time we spend sat down, the more at risk we are of developing an injury. When sitting at work, we need to be using the right posture to avoid injury. We need an ergonomic desk space, that means a work station that is designed for comfort and efficiency.
Injuries that happen while sitting at a desk account for a large range of problems, including neck and back injuries, tendinitis, carpel tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. They affect over 1 million people in the UK! Just a few small changes to your work space could prevent you from becoming injured.
Check the following things at your desk to make sure your workspace is ergonomic.
- You should be able to plant both feet firmly on the ground when sitting. If you have a chair that makes this impossible or cannot be adjusted so that you are sat lower, either get a lower chair or use a footrest.
- Your seat should be tilted so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
- A cushioned seat is better than one that’s too hard.
- Having a chair that swivels will make more things within easy reaching distance for you, which will stop you stretching awkwardly.
- Arm rests will help to support your arms when you aren’t typing, they should let your arm sit at a 90* angle.
- Adjust your chairs backrest so that it supports both your lower back and upper back.
- Adjust the angle of the backrest so it is as far forward as is comfortable, this will help to stop you from slouching.
- Our backs are curved, not straight so you don’t want your chair to be totally straight. If the curve of your lower back is not supported by your chair, add in some lumbar support. You could buy a cheap adapter to put on your chair, or you could use a small cushion. Place the support in between your chair and the small of your back.
- If you spend a long time on the phone at work, use a headset to avoid putting strain on your neck and shoulders.
- Items on your desk should be within easy reach, you don’t want to be stretching too far for your phone or mouse.
- Your elbows should be able to rest on your desk at a right angle.
- Your screen should be within comfortable reaching distance and slightly below eye level. You should not be looking up at your screen, or tilting your head to look down at it.
- To avoid glare on the monitor, tilt it down slightly, or use a glare guard.
- Keep your mouse close to your keyboard.
- Make sure your wrists aren’t raising sharply up or down to type on the keyboard. You could use a wrist rest to keep your keyboard level, or tilt the keyboard.
It doesn’t matter how ergonomic your work space is if you’re sitting with terrible posture.
- Don’t slouch. As the day goes on, you may find yourself getting more and more slumped into your chair, but try and be mindful about sitting upright. This means not slouching your hips forward so that your lumbar spine isn’t supported, and not slumping your neck and shoulders forwards.
- Keep your elbows close to your body and your wrists straight, don’t sit with your elbows out at an angle.
- Keep your posture relaxed. When we’re stressed we hold onto tension so much. When you feel your shoulders, back or arms tensing up be mindful of it and let that tension go.
- Don’t sit with your legs behind your seat. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve in your thighs.
- Take regular breaks when you feel like you’ve been sitting for too long. Go for a short walk or toilet break, make a drink, water a plant or get a glass of water. It’s a good idea to take a 10 minute break every hour.
- Change positions, don’t sit rigidly in your ‘correct’ posture, it’s ok to recline or shuffle about if it feels comfy.
- If you need to, set up a reminder on your phone to alert you to take a break or check your posture.
The workplace is becoming more modernised. The progressive office spaces of high tech companies like Google and Facebook are showing bosses that a more relaxed approach can still produce productive workers.
- Consider a stand up desk. They sound like hard work, but apparently stand up desks are very comfortable and much better for you than being sat down all the time.
- Reconsider time where you don’t have to be sat down. If you and your boss or a client are having a catch up session, why not go for a quiet walk or go and grab a coffee outside? Meetings can be made much quicker and efficient if everyone is stood up, stand up meetings stop people from droning on and your spine will appreciate them!
- If you’re a boss think about getting some practical games in your work space. Things like a ping pong table or office mini golf range may seem like distracting gimmicks, but they can help people get the 5 minutes stretching and exercise that they need so they can go back to work refreshed.
- Some exercise will help improve your posture. Pilates and Yoga can be great posture improvers for office workers, as to get the movements right you’re forced to consider your core muscles and balance. If you don’t have time for that, like everything, there’s an app to help you. Try some posture workout apps, or a posture measuring app on the app store.
If you are feeling the pain from being sat at a desk too much, we can help. Call us on 0114 268 6677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be able to advise you on what kind of treatment will be suitable for your problem.