Many people find they suffer from various aches, pains or health conditions that seem to develop out of nowhere and get progressively worse for what seems like no reason at all. These include things like back, neck and leg pain, eye and muscle strain, headaches, bursitis, decreased range of motion, reduced blood flow to arms and legs, decreased elasticity in soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) among other conditions. Often times, we attribute these things to getting older when, it may actually be the result of poor body mechanics, such as slouching or sitting in an uncomfortable position for extended periods of time, or repetitive tasks or prolonged activities. The good news there are various “ergonomic solutions” that can help to reduce pain, improve posture and lower your risk of injury. Best of all, they don’t have to involve expensive, uncomfortable and difficult to use furniture and tools. Here are a few simple tips:
- POSITIONING YOUR COMPUTER: A lot of us spend a lot of time on computers. Whether it’s working, playing, socializing or watching videos, it’s not uncommon for a person to spend hours and hours of the day in front of a computer, tablet or other screen. The bad news is that a lot of people spend those hours in pain. One of the biggest improvements that you can make is positioning your screen at eye level. Looking down at a monitor or a laptop on a desk or on your lap can lead to significant neck and back pain. In general, the screen you are looking at should be placed at eye level. Aim to have the top of the screen right in front of your eyes when you’re sitting up straight. This can be accomplished by placing your monitor or laptop on a stable surface such as a few books, by using a dedicated laptop stand or by working at a desk that makes this placement possible. Of course, if you’re using a laptop this way, you’ll need to use an external keyboard and mouse. When you do, place your keyboard in a position that allows you to type with your shoulders and arms relaxed and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. If you’re using a tablet or smart phone, your neck angle is also important. Keep the device at a comfortable viewing angle, change your posture frequently and don’t spend extended periods of time looking at the screen in an uncomfortable position.
- SITTING PROPERLY: Once you’ve got your computer set up, it’s time to focus on your chair. Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor. Sit up straight. If your chair has arm rests, position them so that your shoulders are relaxed. You may also want to make additions to your chair to provide you with better lower back support, depending on your chair.
- TAKING BREAKS: Sitting in one position for a long time is bad for your body. Therefore, it’s important to adjust your position frequently, take breaks and make sure to stand up at least every hour. When you stand, take a moment to move around and stretch your arms, legs and neck. This can reduce pain significantly. Standing is generally a better idea for your health than sitting. Too much time sitting down can lead to a variety of issues. If possible, consider working at a standing desk at least some of the time. This will give your body a break from sitting and prevent you from slouching. Taking breaks is also good for your eyes. Staring at a screen for a long period of time is bad for your eyes and can lead to eye strain.
- RETHINKING YOUR BED: Ergonomic solutions aren’t just important when you’re working, but also when you’re sleeping. A comfortable sleep can improve a number of aspects of your life. You can reduce strain on your neck, back and legs by making adjustments to your sleep posture. Choose a pillow that provides enough support but one that is not too soft or too thick. It should allow you to keep your neck in a neutral position and provide support. Position your pillow under your head and neck, not your shoulders. The quality of your mattress is also important. If you have an old, worn out mattress, consider replacing it.
If you’re tired of living with aches and pains, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.