Sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day, five days a week is not the type of activity for which the human body was designed. As a result, many office workers run the risk of developing acute low back pain and neck pain. As a chiropractor in Florence, Ky, I see the long term effects of this process in my office, almost daily.
A recent study (1) in 2010, performed by the Department of Veteran Affairs and published in the Applied Ergonomics Journal followed 200 workers over two, 30 month periods. In the initial 30 months, 100 video display terminal workers received ergonomic intervention and the other 100 workers, did not. The two groups were then crossed over, after a 30 month period. Work related posture and low back pain were assessed with various techniques. Evidence suggested that ergonomic intervention resulted in less lower back pain and improved posture, with effects lasting at LEAST 30 months.
Hopefully, if you’ve made it this far, you are asking yourself what ergonomic interventions can you implement at your desk to avoid injuries and weekly trips to your chiropractor. Otherwise, when you feel that sharp twinge in your back out of no where, call your chiropractor to see if they can help ; )
(Please consult your health care professional to determine if you history would preclude you from performing certain activities):
Posture and Ergonomic tips:
- Adjust the chair height so your arms are parallel to the ground and at desk level. Your elbow should be at a 90 degree angle.
- Take breaks! Stand, or walk for 30 seconds to a minute/hour. If possible, stretch your quadriceps while standing.
- Adjust your screen so the top is below eye level.
- Adjust the lumbar support on your chair. Lumbar support braces/cushions are viable options and can be purchased at a variety of locations, online and in stores.
- Your thighs should also be parallel to the ground with your knees at hip level, or slightly below.
- Rest your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest.
- Adjust your screen so that it is a comfortable distance from your eyes.
- Wrists should be flat and not resting on any surfaces while typing or using the mouse.
- Place the keyboard and mouse at the same level. Place your keyboard flat or tilted away.
- Finally, regardless of how hard we may try to sit with proper posture, it is inevitable that at some point we will begin to slouch. Slouching leads to tight chest muscles. Offset this by performing corner stretches (see diagram below) one to two times/day, hold for at least 30 seconds.
- Effectiveness of an ergonomic intervention on work-related posture and low back pain in video display terminal operators: A 3 year cross-over trial
Applied Ergonomics, Volume 41, Issue 3, May 2010, Pages 436-443