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Senior business men having back pain. Isolated on white

Many people suffer from WRULD (Work Related Upper Limb Disorder) while working, especially while sat at a desk for long periods of time.

Studies show up to 2.5 million suffer from upper limb disorder, due to their working environment. According to studies performed by Ohio state university, employees are less confident in their qualifications and skill set if they have bad posture or slumped at their desks.

It seems poor posture is costing more than an aching back or trips to the physio.

So here is our quick fire guide to avoid bad backs, aching shoulders and general desk discomfort.

Back pain
That slight twinge you get when sitting at your desk can be the first sign of some big problems. Avoiding back pain while sitting at your desk is pretty simple, but very few do it.
Generally back pain from sitting at your desk is due to stiffness, we are designed to move around and any long periods of stillness can result in aching joints.

Solution
Taking a break every half hour may seem overly dramatic, especially when you have the boss breathing down your neck but it will help your productivity and it doesn’t mean long lunch breaks and chats in the coffee room. Take a short stroll around the office, make a drink, file some paperwork, just find a reason to move.
Make sure you also have the right chair height and your screen is not tilted in a way you have to stoop.

Shoulder pain
Nothing is worse than that burning sensation when tasked with a day of typing.
This pain is caused by a sustained imbalance in the muscles which stiffen your shoulder and give your arms the ability to move.

Balancing the weight of your arms while hovering over a keyboard or mouse can eventually cause lasting damage if it is not addressed quickly.

Solution
Elevated gel pads for your desk can take the strain off the neck, shoulders and wrists.
Keeping your elbows tucked in can also reduce the strain on your shoulders, you can achieve this by using a vertical ergonomic mouse and compact keyboard.

It’s also important to be aware of your posture. Most people will twist their bodies slightly without acknowledging it.
Take note of which arm your using the most, you’ll find after a short period of time your shoulder will be slightly higher on that side causing you to twist.

Another trick to take the strain from your shoulders is while commuting use a rucksack rather than a shoulder bag or briefcase! This spreads the weight evenly, giving you a better start to your day.

Neck pain
Neck pain can be related to stress, however if this pain is occuring while sat at your desk then this can be a sign of postural strain. Often our desk space is static and tightly compact, giving us little room or need to move.

Solution
As well as adjusting your seat, and monitor position to stop stoop or stretching posture. Also try moving items further out of reach. As silly as it may seem, but anything on your desk can be an aid for movement. Just space things out! A little movement can stop the strain. Our bodies are meant to move.

“Helpful’ desk checklist to avoid neck, shoulder and back pain.

1.Maintain good posture by –

  • Having an adjustable seat
  • Being able to adjust your screen tilt
  • Adjustable desk height
  • Gel pads for your wrists
  • Keeping your elbows in
  • Sit up straight and avoid twisting at your desk

2. Don’t maintain a fixed posture
Try moving every 30 minutes, take a short walk or find a task where you’re standing.

3. Avoid using shoulder bags or briefcases

4. Give your body reason to move, space your desk out!

5. It maybe a long shot but try asking your boss for aids to help RSI pain such as a telephone headset, specialised posture chairs and adjustable standing desks.
You can always give them the figures of increasing productivity!

If you already suffer from poor posture and needing further advice then get in touch.

Our highly experienced Musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapists, can observe you and advise on further aids to make your working day a more comfortable one.