Sitting at a desk all day is hard work
bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock Most of us consider going to our 9-to-5 a little bit painful—figuratively speaking, at least. But for many folks, their desk job leaves their shoulders, neck, and back in physical pain. In fact, over half of the American workforce has suffered from back pain, arthritis, or other musculoskeletal aches in the past two weeks, according to data from the most recent American Productivity Audit. And even if you’re among the lucky group that’s injury-free, if your gig requires you to be desk-bound, there’s a good chance painful symptoms are manifesting in the background. Scary, right? While that may seem a bit bleak, there are some simple ways desk jockeys can stay pain-free. Proper office ergonomics and tweaks to your daily routine, for example, can help you and your joints stay comfortable on—and off—the clock. Here are a few of the most effective techniques.
Adjust your desk and chair
amorn_me/Shutterstock Working four hours in a less than ideal position is like walking around all day with a rock in your shoe: it’s bound to leave you hurting. “When your desk and chair aren’t set up correctly, it puts the elbows, shoulders, and wrists into positions that apply force on the neck and upper back. It can also cause muscles to tighten up, which over time, can cause pain, explains Sapana Kanojia, MPT, of Orthology, a sports medicine and physical therapy practice that specializes in workplace and musculoskeletal injuries. To ensure a comfortable set up, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests leaving clearance for your knees, thighs, and feet under the desk. If the desk is too low, place blocks under the legs to raise it up. If the desk is too high, raise your chair. If you’re unable to keep your shoes flat on the ground, invest in a footrest. As for your chair, it should support the curve of your spine and have armrests that can be set up so you can sit with your shoulders relaxed, Mayo Clinic experts say.