Neck and Back Pain from Sitting at a Desk All Day
John L. Pantera Jul 13, 2016
Does your Monday through Friday world consist of a desk, a phone, a computer, and a well-used chair? When you get out of your office chair at the end of a long day, do you feel as sore and tired as if you’ve just played a few rounds of volleyball or moved furniture? It’s no secret that desk jobs can wreak havoc on your body. With a whopping 80% of us who work at jobs that are either sedentary or else require only light activity (compared to a mere 20% in 1960), the neck strains, slouching, and shoulder pain are an unfortunate reality for many of us. So how can you prevent desk job aches and pains without switching jobs?
For starters take a look at the position of your computer screen. Ideally, you should not have to bend your neck to look at your screen. If using a laptop, connecting to a different, eye-level monitor is a great idea or placing it in a raised platform. Over time, the extra, added stress to your neck from being tilted to gaze at a traditional laptop screen can lead to permanent damage and degeneration to your neck. Ditto for phone screens. Try to lessen the amount of time your head is bent down while you’re texting, or otherwise looking at your phone. For every degree that your neck is bent forward, a surprising amount of weight is added onto your neck. Here is an article from The Atlantic for more (frightening!) information.
Avoid the phone neck-cradle. Difficult as it is to break this habit, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Our necks were not made to be contorted into a severe enough angle to be able to hold a phone, in the exact right position for us to talk. Ignoring this suggestion can lead to pinched nerves, knotted muscles, or, shockingly, as reported in the BBC News in 1999, a “mini-stroke.” One man, after holding his phone cradled in his neck for over an hour, suffered temporary blindness, ear-ringing, and difficulty speaking. With today's wide selection of Bluetooth headsets and the great quality they provide, there is really no excuse for this problem.
Even after trying to set your chair at the right height, getting wrist-cushions for your keyboard, and utilizing a phone headset, you can still suffer day-to-day strains and stresses on your body. Keeping up with regular visits to your massage therapist can help heal the aches and pains you experience. Whether he or she is breaking up and lengthening the knotted muscles in your neck and shoulders, working the strains out of your hands and wrists, or working on the knots at the base of your back, massages are crucial to office work wellness.
Once your tendons and muscles are healed from their office-related aches, regular massage can keep your muscles loosened, lengthened, and soothed, and can prevent future injuries. Bonus: massage can also help promote proper posture, and avoid permanent "desk slouch."
While many people experience the doldrums regarding their job, taking proper care of your body can make every day more enjoyable and more comfortable. And, come the weekend, your body will be primed for whatever these sunny days have in store.