Having your desk set up wrongly can lead to postural strains and repetitive strain injuries, as well as contributing to shoulder, low back and neck problems, and to headaches.
Osteopathic treatment can usually help with all of these, though the results will be longer lasting if you don’t go back to the same bad habits!
Of course, prevention’s better than cure, so here’s some good advice on ergonomic desk set-up from NHS Choices.
Sitting for long periods can lead to shortening of certain muscles, and weakening of others, which in itself can lead to back pain; and poor posture can strain ligaments and increase wear and tear to joints and discs. So, pay attention to your posture, get up regularly and move around, take regular exercise and include some stretching. Yoga and Pilates are good, but most exercise that you enjoy is good for preventing back pain.
If you already have a back problem, getting up and moving around is even more of a good idea. Movement will help to avoid inflammation building up, and standing also reduces the compressive forces in your low back, which are much higher when you sit. Research has shown that spending part or all of your working day standing reduces the incidence and severity of low back pain; and if you have a disc problem in your low back, working at a standing desk may be the only way you can get through the day. Keeping active is generally best.
The same principles apply to using a laptop at home. Think about where you use it – on the sofa, at the kitchen table? It’s not always ideal. Having a separate keyboard can help, and raising the height of your screen by putting your laptop on a pile of books.
These days we have so many more devices – tablets, phones, games, MP3 players. Being hunched over them increases the strain on neck muscles, and ultimately the joints in your neck, enormously, leading to neck pain, shoulder pain, and often headaches.
Anyway, I’m going to get off the computer now and move around!
More information is available on the Backcare website.
If you need treatment or advice, speak to an osteopath or other professional.