Hunching over a work desk is one of the leading causes of lower back pain and neck pain in the 21st century. Aches, pains and stiffness emerge when your spine and muscles comprising your back are forced to assume one position for too long. Holding your head forward further stresses neck vertebrae and muscles by putting the weight of your head in front of your body instead of balancing your head on top of your body. Prolonged pressure on spinal vertebrae caused by sitting for lengthy periods may also promote chronic back conditions such as herniated discs, osteoarthritis or disc degeneration.
8 Ways to Reduce Back and Neck Pain at Work
1. Any Old Desk Will NOT Do
Unless your desk is adjusted properly, you won't find any relief from back and neck pain no matter how many breaks you take. As a rule, the height of a desk should allow you to place your fingers on a keyboard without forcing you to "shrug" your shoulders so that your wrists, hands and forearms are unnaturally elevated. Adopting this position while typing will fatigue neck muscles and cause painful spasms.
2. Choose a Good Executive Chair
Sit in a sturdy, padded chair that provides excellent lower back support and allows you to recline slightly to decrease strain on the middle and lower back. Never sit in a folding chair, on a stool or other chair type that does not offer back support. Your chair should also let you sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor. Keep feet two to four inches apart to reduce knee and ankle tension.
3. Is Your Keyboard Mouse Running Away from You?
Keep the mouse close to the keyboard and your body. Don't extend your arm or lean over your desk to use a mouse. Overextending and twisting your shoulder, arm and wrist just to use a mouse will irritate soft tissues and cause pain that continues even when you are not at your work desk.
4. Do You Know Where Your Monitor Is?
If you work with a desktop computer, sitting an arm's length away from the monitor can help reduce strain on neck muscles. In addition, your monitor (regardless of size) should be about three inches above eye level to eliminate shoulder and neck strain.
5. How Do You Sit?
If you are a "crossed-leg" sitter, you are forcing your spine to adopt an unnatural "C" shape, restricting blood flow to your legs and preventing your shoulders from "squaring". Don't cross your legs. Instead, bend knees over your ankles at a 90-degree angle and always stay aware of keeping your spine straight and upright.
6. Take at Least Two 5-Minute Breaks Every Hour
But don't just sit while taking your break! Get up, walk around, do toe touches, roll your shoulders and stretch your body by pretending to reach for the ceiling. Moving around and doing stretching exercises helps promote circulation, removes pressure on your vertebral disks, stimulates muscle cell activity and even gets rid of brain "fog".
7. Wrist and Hand Exercises
Avoid suffering carpal tunnel syndrome pain by vigorously exercising your hands, wrists and fingers when you take a five-minute break. Repetitive strain on hands and wrist caused by keyboard work irritates the carpal tunnel nerve, a large nerve extending through a small bony hole (tunnel) in your wrist. If the nerve becomes inflamed and swells, it presses against the sides of this tunnel and produces pain, numbness, tingling and shooting pains in the forearm.
8. Sitting When Stressed
If you are behind schedule on your work or something happened at work that increases your stress level, you will experience the "fight or flight" response that forces shoulders to assume a "shrug" position or elevate significantly. When this happens, upper back and neck muscles quickly become fatigued and temporary inflammation sets in within minutes. When stressed, take five minute breaks more often and remember to breath from your abdomen and not your chest.
Spinal Adjustments and Massage Therapy for Desk-Related Back and Neck Pain
When neck and back pain fail to respond to these tips, consider having regular chiropractic adjustments and therapeutic massages to support good circulation, stimulate endorphin release and reduce anxiety and stress associated with managing pain. Chiropractic massage also lowers levels of cortisol in your bloodstream. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and has been linked to weight gain, heart disease and hypertension. Additionally, receiving periodic adjustments relieves spinal subluxations due to poor posture and sitting for extended periods.
Call any one of our Geaux Chiro locations in Southeast Louisiana today to schedule an appointment for back and neck pain treatment.