Have you ever caught yourself slouching over your desk to look at the computer screen or felt a stiff neck from pouring yourself into your mobile screen for too long? If you are into a job or business that requires you to sit at your desk for long hours, it is likely that you are either already fighting with a chronic back and neck pain issue or are prone to it. A key reason for your pain could be bad posture. In this article we let you in on all the postural mistakes that may be hurting your spine and what can you do to manage the pain caused by it. Also find bonus tips on keeping neck and back pains at bay for those with a desk job.
Research from Cornell University shows your back suffers from 90% more pressure from sitting postures than standing and a critical reason for this is bad postures that our bodies get used to without us being aware of them.
Here are some of the mistakes we make in our postures that lead to stiffness in the neck and back region, deformed spinal vertebrae, cervical and muscular pain. These are tips you can use and simple posture corrections you can make by just being aware of them every time you are at your desk and save yourself tremendous pain and therapies in the near future.
1. Do you look down into your phone for too long?
If you do, your chances of having a muscular sprain or what is called a ‘text neck’ are very high. According to a study done by Dr. Ken Hansraj, M.D. spinal surgeon at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, when the human head is in a neutral position, the head weighs 10-12 pounds. But with a frontal tilt of just 15 degrees, the pressure rises to 27 pounds. At 60 degrees, which is the angle your head is generally at while texting or gaming on your phone, the weight your neck is carrying is about 60 pounds. Though your spine is the strongest in your body, there is only so much pressure of weight that your spine and neck can take.
Holding this position with head drooping forward for too long may not only cause muscle strains but may also injure critical spinal discs.
2. Shoulders shrinking forward
This is another poor posture which could be a result of an ergonomically poor chair or seating tool and lack of lumbar support.
3. Upper body is leaned forward from the lower back region
This puts pressure on the vertebrae and lower spine and may cause disk compression, especially if you are used to sitting for too long.
4. Distance between the elbows and body is significant
If you have to extend your arms too much to be able to type on your computer, and do so for 8 straight hours, you may be putting too much pressure on your shoulders and upper back for no good reason, which opens you up for a risk of muscle tear or spasm which can be painful and slow to heal.
5. Phone to the ear and tilted head
This is a common sight in offices with people doing multiple things while speaking on the phone held between their shoulders and head. This can create tension in the region, sprain your neck, cause nerve damage and spasms that you don’t want.
6. Sitting is the new smoking
Experts say human bodies are meant to move and not sit in one place for too long. Lack of movement reduces the supply of oxygen that the cells of our muscles should ideally receive from the blood. According to ergonomic experts, one must change their posture often enough and take movement breaks every 30 minutes. May be you can walk over to the water cooler every half an hour to an hour as an exercise break.
What can you do to rid back pain? Tips you can use
7. Try Yoga
Yoga is one of the best non-invasive and preventive solutions for back and shoulder pain. Yogic stretches can release the pressures from the various muscles, joints and spine that have been compressed from lack of movement. A sequence of Sukshma Yoga (light warm up asanas that bring sustainable relief) and other Yogasanas or Yoga postures as prescribed in the ancient Indian Vedic texts can work for a stronger neck and muscles in general.
These Asanas, apart from helping your neck stiffness, will also relax your mind, freeing you of the stress that has been sitting in your system. But, it is most important that each Yogasana is done while paying attention to the breath and the region or part of the body that is getting stretched in the process of doing the asana.
8. Body Massage
Once you finish with your Yoga session or for that matter any other work out, it is a good idea to give yourself a restful body massage using herbal muscle release oil that seeps into your muscular tissues, lubricating and rejuvenating each muscle fiber in your body. It also releases the psychosomatic stress stored in your body. For example, the Shankara Muscle Release Oil, a unique blend of eastern herbal essences and actives from the west like sunflower, almond, sesame, aloe vera, castor, jojoba, sweet birch, lavender, cedarwood, frankincense, devils claw, boswellia among others, is widely being used by those who are into sports, Yoga or some form of workout that works up the muscle tissues of the body.
9. Physical therapy
For back or neck pain caused by trauma or injury, you can approach a physiotherapist in town who provide a set of exercises to strengthen the nerves and muscles in the specific region and heal the muscular and nervous inflammations through a specific line of treatment.
Here’s what you can do to avoid back and neck problems at work if you have a sedentary job
10. The correct posture
While sitting at your workstation, make sure
Feet are almost flat on the floor. You can support the slight raised feet by putting something below the back of the foot.
Make sure your back is straight against the chair and you are not slouching
The end of your skull, your back and base of the spine must be aligned straight.
Make sure your head is neutral, not raised up or lowered and ears are aligned with the shoulders
Make sure the lower back is not rounded. Round lower back will cause the upper body to slouch.
11. The monitor and keyboard placement is key
- Monitor is right in front of you.
- The nose should be aligned with the center of the screen
- Keyboard should be close by. Reduce the distance between the elbows and your body as much as possible.
- Keyboard should be placed in a way you don’t have to slouch to type
- The mouse and keyboard should be at the same level