Long Hours at the Computer Can Lead to Chronic Pain
If you are one of those people who sit at a computer for long hours in a day, you may be suffering from “computer neck” – or perhaps will be in the near future. Other problems that surface when spending long hours in front of a computer include back pain, shoulder pain, hand, wrist and finger pain – all resulting in reduced mobility and possibly leading to other injuries, loss of sleep and certainly a decrease in your ability to be productive when sitting in front of your computer.
There are stretches and many other measures you can take to reduce your aches and pains and prevent or reduce future problems as a result of long hours at the computer.
A lot of people who sit at a computer – especially if they are there for a prolonged period – tend to lean their heads forward. I suggest you sit up as straight as possible and even possibly get a chair that is adjustable so that your knees are equal to or even slightly higher than your hips. This will force you to sit in a more upright position. Another thing you can do is place a stool under your feet so that your knees are raised slightly higher than your hips. You can vary your position on the foot stool, sometimes having just one foot on the stool, then the other, but it is best to keep both feet on the stool to keep the body aligned. If you do have an adjustable chair, slightly tip the seat forward to help you to sit up straight and prevent that “slouching” that is so easy to revert to when you are sitting at your desk for a prolonged period of time.
Many people find a lot of neck tension and muscle strain in their upper neck and shoulders as a result of long hours sitting at a computer. I recommend you take two minutes every half hour or so to do a quick stretch – you don’t even need to leave your desk. Just hang onto your chair on one side and lean the opposite way while gently pulling your head to that same side. I recommend you do the same thing on both sides in order to keep your symmetry and your muscles even aligned. It will feel really good, so remember this is something that will not only help you to be more productive for a longer period of time, and prevent those eventual aches and pains that can lead to a more chronic condition, but it will also feel GREAT!
For those of you who do a lot of typing and mouse work, you may find your hands and forearms cramping. Another easy suggestion to alleviate that is while you are sitting at your desk, take 30 seconds to grab your fingers and push your palm forward, stretching out your forearm. Do the same thing on the other side and then grab your fingers but face your palm inward. You can then just gently shake your hands and fingers and get back to work!
It is also a good habit to move around every 30-60 minutes. Stand up and take a walk around the office if you can, even if it is for a minute or two. Go and get a glass of water, use the washroom or even start a different task. Finally, when you take a lunch break try to do that away from your desk – if there is someplace outdoors that you can walk to, even better! If you schedule a walk or lunch out of the office with someone else, this will also help ensure you get a bit more physical activity into your day.
Basically, changing up your computer routine to prevent injury is no different than changing up your fitness routine to prevent injury – any sustained activity can lead to over use injuries. There are other ways to reduce stress on your back, neck, shoulders, hands, wrists and even prevent things like carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, neck pain and back pain.
Feel free to tell us about what you do to change up your computer routine and prevent computer neck and other related over use injuries.
If you have any questions about chiropractic or other treatments to alleviate pain or reduce computer stress in your body, call or come by the Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic in Newton Crossing, 604.507.9929.