Top 5 tips for reducing computer-related tension,
and why it’s important
Are you sitting at a desk for most or all of your workday, on a computer or using a phone for hours at a time? At the end of the day, you might have a headache, or neck, upper back or lower back pain because of the stress of your job and the strain of sitting at that desk.
It’s not really an option to quit your job or buy fancy ergonomic equipment, is it? (Congratulations if it is!) Neither do you have the time to take a five-minute break out of every hour, or the concentration to remind yourself “Sit up straight!” every few minutes.
So what can you do? Today you’ll find out the best, most practical ways to be more comfortable at work- the five most basic things you can do that are quick, easy to do, and easy to remember.
- Sit in your chair. Seems obvious… except for the fact that most of us lean forward, sitting on the edge of our seats. This is not an epic movie; one can’t maintain that level of excitement day in and day out, week after week! So sit back. Take the strain off your back muscles, and allow your chair to support you. Except now you’re too far away from your computer! Step 2…
- Move your chair closer in to your desk. You’ll be able to reach things without straining. Really simple move, very important effect. If it feels too claustrophobic, try to take the chair arms off. That allows you to get up more easily, too. Wham! Did you see that? Two birds, one stone.
- Roll your shoulders back. Move your shoulders up, back, and down. Your body will automatically sit up straighter. Bonus: if your shoulders brush your chair, then you’re sitting far enough back in your chair!
- Keep your head back. For every inch the head moves forward on our neck, 10 pounds of strain is added to the neck. To keep your head back, you’ll have to sit back in your chair and move closer to your desk; if you’re reaching for things, your head will come forward. Following any of these steps reinforces the others!
- Get up more often. Move around. Every ergonomics article you read will say this, and it’s not really negotiable. You don’t have to get up for five minutes every hour- who times his workday like that, seriously? Just remind yourself to do it as often as you feel is necessary. Set a goal for yourself- twice a day, or ten times a day.*
That’s it. The five quick tips above are easy to remember, and take less of your time than brushing your teeth. (For more in-depth ergonomics articles, see the links below.)
*Brake! Your brain just exited this freeway. You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I can’t do this. I can never get away from my desk, I’m just too busy, my boss gives me the evil eye.” I understand. And let me explain why this is so important, so we can make it worth your while.
First, your legs, arms, neck, shoulders, and back need more blood flow. Blood flow affects your muscles and your nervous system, improving concentration and alertness- you’ll get more done, making fewer mistakes/ overlooking fewer issues. You’ll also have a little more energy for the family, kids, errands, and hobbies at the end of the day.
Second, moving around is necessary for your long-term health. If you can’t get up and move around at all, you get an extreme lack of blood and lymph flow, and your muscles begin to build up too much fibrin (a type of protein). This creates a “popping”, grinding, or “crumbly” feeling, or extreme tightness and decreased range of motion in the muscles. Most people notice it between the shoulder blades or between the neck and shoulder. Excess fibrin buildup has the same chemical composition as scar tissue; there’s a different cause, with the same effect- fibrous tissue is not elastic, and doesn’t allow blood or lymph flow through the tissue, which means that this stuff cannot heal itself.
This is not a serious condition, nor is it permanent; but no one wants to feel seventy when he/ she’s only forty. Excess fibrin buildup (also called fibrosis, but that term is usually reserved for describing scar tissue) is reversible. Moving the affected muscles can help; exercise can help more; for the fastest results, see a massage therapist.
Hey, I know one of those…
An Introduction to Ergonomics: Avoiding Repetitive Strain Injuries
Time Out, a break reminder tool