Is pain in your neck or back getting worse every day? If yes, you are not alone. Even the most seemingly benign work done with lack of ergonomics and physical care could increase the risk of getting body aches or Musculo Skeletal Disorders or MSDs. A recent study conducted SGH (Singapore General Hospital) showed that around 73% of office workers in the country experience at least one form of MSD. The report suggested that 46% of people suffer from neck pain, 42% with shoulder pain and another 42% with lower back pain. Also, a greater number of females (76%) reported suffering from MSDs than males (64%).
Here are different things you can do in your work hours for managing pain or preventing it.
Set up your desk
“A Messy Desk Is a Sign of Genius“umm not true. Studies show that a person who works with a cluttered desk on an average spends around 4.3 hours on finding things. This not only decreases productivity but also increases frustration and stress, also reduces creative thinking and concentration. Working for long with a cluttered desk fixates stress in certain parts of the body that lack movement. So your back is obviously going to be affected. As you get stressed, the back receives less and less oxygen and this results in the build-up of biochemical waste in the muscles. This could lead to stiffness, spasm, muscle tension and if neglected chronic back pain.
A well-organized desk will look something like this
Take deep slow breaths- belly breathing
Bill O’Reilly, an American journalist and author of New York best-selling books, once in an interview shared a tip about taking three deep breaths before sitting down at the desk and starting to work. We usually do not consciously breathe, it happens naturally or automatically. But deep breathing by inhaling air until it moves downward into the lower belly and slowly releasing it gives an immediate calming effect. It reduces stress and also decreases pain by calming nerves that send pain impulses. With deep breathing, the blood gets oxygenated and this triggers endorphins. Also, it slows the heart rate and decreases stress hormones. Other than taking deep slow breaths, for greater benefits practice yogic breathing exercises.
Make yourself comfortable at your workspace
In today’s world, we sit a lot and at work, we do it all the time. So pay attention to the way you sit on your chair. A bad-seated position might be just what is causing stiffness in the neck, back, muscle fatigue, lower back pain and even whole body pain that many whine about. A good seating posture involves sitting comfortably with a back support that adjusts itself to the shape of your spine. Your muscles and ligaments should feel the least strain in this position. Other than sitting right, increase your comfort by adjusting the keyboard’s position and height. The position of your keyboard should be such that your arms are at or slightly below a 90-degree angle. This reduces muscle fatigue and strain in the hands. Also, if your work demands a lot of typing, it prevents you from developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Place the monitor in a position that aligns with your direct line of sight or it should be directly in front of you. Also place it away from the windows and avoid having a bright light behind your back and behind the screen.
Get up and walk around
When you sit for prolonged periods of time, the blood flow in the body slows down. This decreases oxygenation of muscles, increases stress and in the short term creates pain in the back and neck. Over time, this could lead to heart diseases, diabetics, obesity, and arthritis. So get up and walk around frequently, at least once every hour to keep your body in good shape and prevent body pain.
Our body is composed of up to 60% water. All the organs and parts of our body need water to carry out their functions- regulate temperature, the flow of blood, expel waste, etc. While you work, body expends a lot of water, even when you do not sweat. If you do not replenish your body with water at regular intervals, it can slowly trigger musculoskeletal pains. Each spinal disc is made of tough circular exterior called annulus fibrosus and a gel-like substance called nucleus pulposus inside. With the decrease of water intake, the properties of nucleus pulposus start to deplete and this reduces spine’s shock absorbing ability. This can create chronic back pains and horrible disc related problems.
If you recognize you have developed work related body pain or a Musculoskeletal disorder, talk to your manager at work and make the necessary adjustments. Also, here at Rapidphysiocare we diagnose MSDs and suggest appropriate physiotherapy exercises to fix them.