Ways to Cope with Pain at Work (part 1 – office work)

This article is specifically for office workers. We will be looking at non office workers in Part 2.

A common mistake for almost everyone is to wait until you’re falling apart before seeking treatment. When you are experiencing symptoms – pain; discomfort; loss of range of motion – some dysfunction has already taken hold in your system. To get you back to a healthy state can then take longer.  This article compiles some thoughts on everyday Sydney stressors and a recommendation for monthly maintenance to help keep your body in balance – aimed specifically at the office worker.

As a busy professional, you probably sit for long hours each day and may be subject to constant and demanding emotional stressors. In addition, driving, seated in a car, is commonly part of day to day living in Sydney and usually involves a commute of at least 30 minutes on busy roads.The effects associated with long commutes include pain through the upper back and neck or lower back pain (or both!). We could even call this ‘the Sydney commuter syndrome’.

If you really must sit for long hours at work or home, it is worthwhile examining the ergonomics of your workstation.  There are a few main things to consider:

1. The height of your computer monitor should allow you to maintain a neutral head position. Usually people have the height of their computer monitor set too low which feeds the anterior head position (the forward ‘chin poke’ effect). Also, if you have a double-monitor setup, make sure the monitor you use the most is positioned directly in front of you.

2. Ensure you have natural light and take regular breaks for your eyes. There are fine muscles in charge of controlling the lens in the eye which adjust for near and long distance focus. When seated at a computer for 10 years of your life, having your eyes focusing at a single distance can cause these muscles in the eye to atrophy. As your eyes deteriorate, in an attempt to focus you crane the head forward – again, feeding this ‘chin poke’ forward head misalignment.

3. Support your lower back. A truly ergonomic chair does not exist….but you can at least make sure that the first point of contact between the chair and your back is the lower back. This acts to lift your posture when the body sags. A ‘D-roll’ or a towel wedged down between your lower back and the chair can achieve this. Building your core strength is a must for good chair posture (sitting). You could also consider spending some time using a ‘fit-ball’ at your desk.

4. Maintain a supported posture in any repetitive movements you do. For example, if you use a filing cabinet, you don’t want this to be positioned below and to the side requiring you to bend and twist 40 times per day in the same direction.

5. There is no substitute for taking breaks from sitting – get up, walk around and stretch!

Getting a regular monthly maintenance body check-up is a much better way to approach your overall health rather than waiting until you ‘fall over’.   Nick takes a holistic approach to check-ups and treatments.  He looks at the whole body starting at the pelvis and hips and make sure you’re balanced here first as problems here can refer throughout your body. Then Nick will look at the spine, up through shoulders and finally to the neck. You’ll also get advice on maintenance and prevention, for example a new stretch or exercise regime may be recommended to combat tightness through the lower back.

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