Your workstation could be the source of your pain

There are plenty of things that can cause us pain, from poor posture to things like injuries, strain, and even poor diet. But one of the things most people don’t even consider is the design of their workstation.

Unfortunately, many of us spend hours behind a desk every day, and more and more people are finding themselves stuck at home working from makeshift offices and other ad hoc workspaces thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, work-related musculoskeletal problems – including things like muscle strains and carpal tunnel syndrome – made up 32% of all worker injury and illness claims in 2014.

Some of the most common problems that result from improper workstation ergonomics include:

The good is that along with doing some simple stretches and exercises throughout the day, making ergonomic adjustments to your workstation has been shown to significantly reduce the dangers of acute pain due and injuries from things like repetitive strain at the office. Plus, these changes can have benefits beyond just the physical – they have even been shown to increase job satisfaction and overall levels of happiness.

Ways to Change Your Habits and Your Workstation to Decrease Pain

Here are 7 ways to create a healthy, productive, and ergonomic working environment.

1.  Good posture

Your number one ergonomic priority should be establishing a good working posture. It’s important to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks. If you work in an office, this means sitting with your hands, wrists, and forearms straight and parallel to the floor. Make sure your head is level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally in line with your torso.

One of the most important things you can do during the day is getting up and walking around, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Once an hour, take the time to stand up and walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window, anything that gets you out of your chair.

2.  Adjustable chairs and desks

To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, try switching to a high-quality adjustable chair. The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored your natural posture. After all, when it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all.

3. Proper display height and distance

Monitors and other screens should be placed at eye level, as you should never have to strain your neck or squint your eyes while viewing a display. You also shouldn’t have to turn their neck to the left, right, up, or down to view a display, especially if you use multiple screens.

4. Keyboard and mouse position

Proper keyboard and mouse configuration can be just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning. Using the mouse at a bad angle can lead to excessive fatigue and injury of the elbows and wrists, which is why the keyboard and mouse position should be tailored to the person using them. 

 5. Reducing repetitive movement

Most musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are a result of repetitive motion, as repeating the same motion over and over is going to cause stress and eventually lead to injury. The best way to solve this problem is to do something else so that you’re performing different movements.

When it’s not possible to stop what you’re working on to get up and move around, try periodically changing the neutral positioning you’re using. If you’re in an office setting, try moving from an upright sitting position to standing or sitting reclined. Make sure you change the angle just enough to use different muscles for whatever you’re working on.

6. Vary your eye position by looking around

Staring at a computer display all day long can lead to noticeable eye fatigue. To minimize the stress on your eyes, you need to take the time to look away from the monitor every 10 to 20 minutes or so and focus on something more than 20 feet away. Try looking at the clock on the wall or watching people outside the window. Switching your focus to something in the distance will allow your eyes to adjust and give the muscles a chance to relax.

7. Try ergonomic accessories like footrests, headsets, and ball seats

Office equipment has come a long way over the years, and you can now buy ergonomic accessories to help improve your workspaces. Those who are a little short for their desk may benefit from a footrest, for example, especially when an adjustable workstation desk isn’t an option.

If you have to talk on the phone all day, think about investing in a headset to free up your hands and alleviate neck pain. Other items, such as document holders, balance balls, and other office accessories can make your workstation more comfortable and help prevent injuries before they become debilitating.

Quantum Pain & Sports Medicine can help

If you are in pain and you want to learn more about some of the ways you can maximize the ergonomics of your workspace, the acute pain specialists at Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help. We are not just experts at diagnosing and treating pain, we are your source for holistic treatment – and that includes tips and tricks on how to improve your working environment.

Call 469.913.6136 or contact us to learn more today.