The causes of these problems with the spine are often lifestyle related and preventable. One example is the occupational stress related sedentary desk work. We no longer lead the ‘hunter-gatherer’ lifestyle of our ancestors (think that it was only 10,000 years ago and the shape of our body has barely changed). Increasing reliance on computers means more and more people spend most of their day physically inactive. This is made worse if the workstation set up does not allow for proper posture.
Good ergonomics is essential for the office-bound worker. Failure to address office ergonomics can lead to a range of problems including chronic neck, back and shoulder pain, repetitive strain injuries, numbness in the arm and hands and osteoarthritis.
Having regular chiropractic adjustments and daily exercise can help prevent work-related health problems, but addressing posture in the workplace is essential.
Key elements include:
A good quality ergonomic chair that helps maintain the forward curve (lordosis) of the lower back. The chair should also allow you to lean back without the low back losing the forward curve.
- Knees should be positioned so they are slightly lower than hips.
- Feet should be comfortably flat on the floor or a suitable footrest.
- An ergonomic keyboard and mouse should be easily reached with elbows at 90 degrees or more.
- Typing material should be positioned at computer screen height.
- Shoulders should be relaxed without slouching (avoid craning and chin forward).
- The top of the monitor should be in line with your eyes (or slightly below) when sitting upright.
- Keep your elbow close to the body as much as possible when using mouse device.
No matter how well the ergonomic set up of your office, the body is designed to move. It is important to regularly change your posture and move about at least every 30 minutes.