4 Important Tips on Pain Relief from Working at a Desk
If you work at a desk all day, then you are probably well aware of all the aches and pains that can come as a result. As a writer, I sit most of the day, as well as have had some back issues for a while now. So, I wanted to learn as much as I could about what I could do to help relieve some of that pain.
What I am about to share with you are tips that I have not only found, but also apply to my workday on a consistent basis. If I don’t, I can feel it by the end of the day, which leads to a bad start the next day.
First, let’s talk about the pain and the areas that are affected by working at a computer all day. If you work on a laptop like me, it can be even more difficult, if precautions are taken.
As I mentioned, I have had problems with my back for a while now, and sitting all day aggravates it more than most things I do. Even if you have an amazing back pain remedy, it’s best to avoid the damage that is being done to begin with. After a while, the remedies will become less effective, so protect your back as much as you can.
Back pain can also bring on compensatory pains, such as hip and leg. When our backs hurt, we compensate for that in how we sit, stand, and walk, which can lead to injuring other body parts, as it’s not our natural way of sitting or walking.
In addition to those pains, we also have to protect our neck, wrists, and eyes. All of these can be strained if we aren’t sitting properly, with the right tools and equipment.
1. Ergonomics to the Rescue
Ergonomics is the design of equipment and furniture so it fits our body, for optimum comfort. If we sit in a chair that our body is trying to contour to, rather than it fitting our body, it leads to pain and injury. Some ergonomic items available are:
- Lumbar Chairs, to support the back
- Wrist Pads, to prevent Carpal Tunnel
- Laptop Docking System, to eliminate the stress of working on a laptop
- Adjustable Monitors, to bring the monitor to eye level and reduce strain on the neck and eyes
Laptops are especially difficult to work at all day, if you don’t use the appropriate tools. According to Dr. Tamara James, of Duke, there are several options such as a docking device for the laptop, which requires an external keyboard and monitor.
You could also use a device that props the laptop up on an angle that would relieve neck, eye, and even wrist strain, and would not require the external components.
However, the best investment you can make would be a good quality lumbar chair. Make sure that it fits right, with your feet resting comfortably on the floor, the lumbar curve resting in the small of your back, and that it’s rolled right up to the desk so you don’t have to lean forward.
2. Take Breaks
Taking breaks throughout the day is very important, both physically and mentally. Get up and walk around during these breaks, grab a protein snack and stretch. I have taken the dog for a walk quite often during my breaks, so I don’t have that interruption when I am working.
If you have to, schedule the breaks, with an alarm set so you don’t work right through them. It’s difficult sometimes to break away when I’m in a creative flow, but it’s necessary.
3. Stretch It Out
While you are at the desk, do some slight stretching of the back, legs, arms, and neck. This helps to keep them relaxed and not tighten up while sitting so long. We all pause for a few seconds between thoughts, which is a good time to do a little stretch, starting with the neck, all the way down to the feet.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration can lead to muscle spasms and pain, as well as fatigue. So, keep a bottle of water at your desk at all times, and drink from it often. Fill it up during your breaks, and keep drinking throughout the day.
If you have ever had a good massage, you know that they recommend drinking plenty of water afterward to avoid cramping up. This is because it helps to flush out the toxins in your system, which can lead to muscle pain.
I can definitely tell the difference on the days when I don’t drink enough water. It’s recommended that you drink at least 8 8oz glasses of water each day. If you currently don’t drink water, that amount can be overwhelming at first. I suggest you work your way up to that much, until you can tolerate it.
Remember, that’s water…not caffeinated beverages, which can actually dehydrate you more. Think of your body as a garden, which needs both nutrients and water to flourish. In fact William Shakespeare once said:
“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”
Work it in slowly if necessary, but you will see great results once you are up to that much water a day.
Working at a desk can be painful for anyone. And, if we don’t take the necessary steps to prevent it, we could be facing a lifetime of unnecessary pain. I hope that I have been able to share some information that you can use to help relieve some of the pain caused from sitting at a desk all day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Munroe is a freelance writer who is currently working with a Sacramento Chiropractor on a series of articles on the importance of ergonomics. He resides in California with his family.