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At Computer Supplies, we love computers and cellphones...but of course! They make our jobs easier, if not possible, and keep us in touch with loved ones near and afar.
This isn’t to say that we love everything that comes with it. Sitting hunched in front of a screen (or phones - which we all check at some point, or points) all day - it’s undeniably painful after a while.
For me, this strikes a particular nerve. By way of background that prompts my own pain, and concern for the subject: I’ve studied for a long time, the majority of my life really. Which isn’t to say it’s not a privilege, because it certainly is, but it means a lot of books, desk time, and as time has gone on, more screen time.
As I studied for law school exams, the toll really started to hit. I would come home from the library with a lump in my back or neck and feel like someone had inserted this pressure point into my neck that no amount of stretching could alleviate. Then, during the bar exam, the pain really set in, where I had no class to get up and go to, with the hours on end spent hunched over both books and my computer. Naturally, along the way I picked up some tips and tricks that would help with the pain. Because, lifehacks. Here are some of them; join the conversation and comment with any of your favorites!
1. Don’t hunch when you don’t have to
This is completely based in common sense, but still so very crucial. Just because you are reading a report online or on paper, it doesn’t mean you have to hunch. Mindfulness is the key here - be mindful of your posture overall, and sometimes you will correct it on your own. It may seem simple enough but poor posture, especially when at the desk, places unnecessary strain on the spine and neck area. Long term effects of poor posture include sliding disks and spinal injuries.
2. Look for computer alternatives
If you don’t have to read from a computer don’t. This is said because a major cause of neck and back strain in the office is a prolonged use of computers. Instead look to other techniques that can help you spend less time at the monitor. Tablets are good tools in this regard as well as voice recognition software. Both of these tools would allow you to spend less time in front of the computer and aid in reducing neck strain. Utilizing print media is also a good idea instead of reading all the information on a screen. This will also help to ease tension in muscles with would have otherwise been put under considerable strain.
3. Placement is everything
Aim to have a workstation that is conducive to maintaining proper back and neck health. Factors such as phone, keyboard and monitor placement thus become important when you are looking to reduce neck and back strain. With regard to phones, try to aim to have them nearby to avoid having to extend too far. Monitors should also be adjusted to suit you height in order to avoid neck strain. Adjust your chair and screen so that you are sitting eye level to the monitor. Ensure that the monitor is also an arm’s length away and your hands are comfortably supported on the armrest of the chair. You can do this most easily by using an adjustable monitor arm or by having books you can put under your monitor to raise it as needed.
4. Use a document holder
Document holders are an effective way to reduce strain, especially neck strain, around the office. By keeping documents at the same level as the monitor, document holders reduce the amount of neck shifting you would have to do had you not utilized one. For those whose work involves referring to documents they would find that document holders are a great tool to reduce repetitive movements of the neck. In addition to being placed next to the screen, document holders can also be placed between the monitor and keyboard or attached to the actual monitor screen. Document holders are also effective at reducing eye strain as they minimize the need for eyes to refocus between the paper and computer monitor.
5. Reduce the amount of time cradling phones
Cradling phones on the neck is a habit that most of us fall into however it is also one that can cause severe neck strain. Persons who try to multitask with work and the phone may often find themselves suffering from neck and back pain due to the angle at which this position places the body which causes additional strain on muscles. In situations like this it is often best to make it a point to not try to multitask in this position. You might instead find it more beneficial to pause from the work and take the call. Perhaps even standing and walking while you do so. Another method to reduce the likelihood of cradling phones is to use speakers or headsets. This will allow you to do tasks while talking on the phone without having to place your body in positions that will ultimately result in strain in the neck and back.
6. Avoid crossing your legs
In addition to impacting blood flow to the feet, sitting with your legs crossed causes undue strain on your neck and back. This is so because crossing your legs causes the pelvis to be placed in a rotated position making it less stable for the rest of the body. As a result you unconsciously create a curve in your back which puts strain on you back and muscles. Ideally it is best to sit with your feet at a 90 degree angle to your hips. Footstools can be used to help support feet.
7. Use chairs with proper back support
Part of ensuring an ergonomic work station is utilizing a chair that offers an adequate amount of back support. The best chairs to use are those which are adjustable and also offer lumbar and arm support. The ability to adjust armrests in order that arms may remain close to sides helps to reduce strain. Chairs with these features help to reduce strain on the spinal area. It is also important to arrange the chair correctly at the appropriate height to take advantage of its maximum tension reducing benefits.
8. Take regular breaks in between tasks
Taking regular breaks in work sessions is an effective way to reduce pent up strain in the muscles, particularly in the back and neck. Breaks help to get rid of clenching that may be happening in the body due to prolonged sitting at a desk. Short walks are excellent options. Not only do they allow the muscles to relax but they also help minimize the effects of eye strain and aid in increasing focus.
Scheduling reminders to take a break is also a method to make sure you don’t forget. Taking walks to the bathroom or even directly relaying messages to colleagues are also great opportunities to relax tightened muscles that contribute to back pain.
9. Do some light office yoga
Stretching has been shown to provide relief to tight muscles and improve flexibility. It elongates the muscles in order to remove tension. Stretching is also a good way to improve your range of motion and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. You can use light yoga poses around the office to combat neck and back strain.
A couple of these types of poses you can incorporate include:
While sitting erect take a deep breath and rotate your body while exhaling. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and your lower body facing forward. Hold for a couple counts and release to a neutral, forward facing position. Take a deep breath and repeat twists to the other directing, grabbing the arm rest if necessary.
Standing Thigh Stretches
In a standing, raise your right foot with your right hand so that the heel is brought close to the back of your legs and butt. Release the leg and repeat position using your left hand and left leg.
Seated Eagle arm
Sitting with your spine tall, cross your arms in front of your chest ensuring they are parallel to the floor. Keep palms facing each other with your elbows bent and stacked. Keeping your palms together; raise arms towards the ceiling and hold. Unwind hands and switch positions.
10. Be mindful of what your tasks require
When you don’t have to sit or look at a computer screen, don’t. There are plenty of situations in the office that my not require you to lock yourself in a position in front of a screen or even behind a desk. Meetings are example of this. Instead of sitting you can stand during the meeting to ease the tension and strain on the back and neck. By being aware of your tasks and actively looking for situations where it is not necessary to utilize a computer you are taking preventative measures to reduce the amount of tension that you may have felt on your neck and back had you elected to stay in front of the screen.
komalSep 2 2015