It's the work-from-home struggle we are all familiar with—desk job pain.
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is bad for our health—physically and mentally. But not all is lost! There are things you can do to help lead a more balanced lifestyle and reduce the stress your body endures while working.
In this article, we'll walk you through common desk injuries and what you can do to prevent them.
Common Desk Job Injuries
Desk injuries can occur anywhere in the body.
Chronic pain can negatively impact mental health as well, potentially leading to depression and anxiety in tens of millions of Americans.
Here are 4 of the most common desk job injuries:
Lower back pain is one of the most common desk injuries. Prevent lower back pain by making sure your back comes in contact with the entire back of your desk chair. If not, use a small pillow or rolled-up blanket to provide additional support.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arm pain
Using a mouse all day can cause Carpal tunnel and forearm pain.
Try these stretches to reduce carpal tunnel and wrist pain.
Headaches + shoulder and neck pain
Headaches, migraines, and upper body tension can be caused by forward head posture—caused by leaning forward to look at a computer screen. Millions of people struggle with this one. Do yourself a favor and make sure your desk setup is optimal for maintaining good posture (more on that below!).
Hip and leg pain
Sitting still for long periods of time can cause the muscles in your legs and hips to tighten. Strech them regularly and go for walks and runs to help warm those muscles back up.
How to Prevent Desk Job Pain
1. Keep good posture
It can be hard to be mindful of your posture all day. Make it easier for your body to keep good posture by implementing some of these tips, inspired by Mayo Clinic.
- Make sure your monitor isn't too far away or too close to your face. Ideally, your eyes should be level with the top of your screen. If you use a laptop, consider getting a laptop stand for your desk.
- Increase the font size on your monitor so you aren't tempted to lean or crane your head forward.
- Sit so that your wrist and forearm and parallel to the floor. This will likely require that you raise or lower your desk.
- Don't sit at a 90-degree angle! It is actually best to recline at about 100 degrees.
- Make sure your feet touch the ground while you sit at your desk. If your feet don't touch the ground, get a footrest.
- Allow your arms and shoulders to relax downward while sitting at your desk. This may require that you remove or lower the armrests on your desk chair.
- Change which side you use your mouse to reduce strain on your wrists and forearms. Make sure you keep items on your desk within close reach so you won't need to strain to access items in your workspace.
- Consider getting a stand-up desk to allow yourself to stand for part of the day.
2. Take breaks
This is important for our productivity, mental health, and physical health. It is totally okay to take 5 minutes an hour to walk around your home or the office. Take a walk outside during your lunch break. Walk while talking on the phone. Get outside for a bit before your workday starts.
If you have a Fitbit or smartwatch, have it remind you to walk around for a few minutes every hour.
Meditation is a great way to relax your body and mind. On one of your breaks, take 5 or 10 minutes to meditate. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation to unwind after a long day. Meditation can also be used as a preventative measure again tension and body aches.
80% of Americans don't get enough exercise. Adults should try to get at least a couple hours of moderate to intense exercise per week. Exercise is great at reducing tension and your risk for anxiety and depression—along with common desk job pain.
You can also try adding yoga to your exercise routine—exercise and stretching all in one!
Look into exercise plans and create a routine that works for you. Here are some ways to get quick wins:
- Climb a flight of stairs 3 times per day
- Take a 15 minute walk every morning when it is sunny out
- Attend group fitness sessions with a friend to keep each other accountable
5. Eat healthy foods
Avoid eating inflammatory foods like sugar, vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates, and other processed foods. Inflammation can cause headaches, tension, and body aches in many people.
Try eating foods that reduce inflammation and have high nutritional value. Foods like:
- Deep leafy greens and other vegetables
- Fish—especially small ones like sardines
- Fruits that are lower in total sugars and higher in nutritional value, like dates and berries
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts like pecans and walnuts
Eat at home as much as you can. It's good for your body and the budget! To make it more fun, cook with your spouse or cook while listening to music. Cooking can be a great way to transition out of the workday. It can also reduce stress and tension for some people. Plus, it's a great way to be on your feet for a bit.
Stretching is great at reducing tension and other desk job pains.
Check out some stretching techniques to use when you've been sitting at your desk for a while.
7. Get a massage
Treat yourself! Go to a local salon or learn how to do massage at home. Some companies even bring in massage therapists to massage their employees. A throwback to our roots in the massage business!
Add some of these ideas to your routine to reduce desk injuries and improve your mental health.
With Nivati, you can build a custom eating plan with a nutritionist, find a licensed counselor and set an appointment in 3 clicks, and learn how to massage yourself or others through virtual massage services.
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