Looking after yourself at work
As an osteopath, I ask a lot of questions in your treatments with me, particularly when it comes to your work. Understanding the nature of what your job involves allows me to recognise what your body goes through in an average work day. Did you know that musculoskeletal conditions are a major contributory factor for absence at work? The Office for National Statistics reports that 30.8 million working days are lost each year due to musculoskeletal issues such as back and neck pain in the UK alone.
When it comes to work related musculoskeletal pain, the classic ‘office job’ springs to mind but in fact all kinds of jobs can contribute to musculoskeletal issues. I’ve treated hairdressers, tattooists, cleaners, rubbish collectors, lorry drivers, pilots, you name it…they nearly all tell me at some point during their sessions that they think work contributes to their symptoms.
Unfortunately poor posture habits can contribute to daily aches and discomfort both in the workplace and at home and this may expose you to stresses and strains that can cause you pain.
Common causes of strain in the workplace can include:
Prolonged sitting at a desk
Driving long distances
Awkward lifting or carrying
Extended periods of repetitive motion
Using a computer without taking breaks
These can lead to various aches and pains and if not dealt with, and can even lead to other conditions such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Use these simple tips to stay healthy at work:
Make sure to take frequent short breaks away from the computer to help avoid back, neck and eye strain
Ensure that your chair and computer are adjusted appropriately – this includes having a good chair that supports your back, both feet being able to rest comfortably on the floor or footrest and the top of the computer screen being at your eye level. If you work at a computer from home, it’s also important to replicate this at home too.
When lifting, always keep the item you are lifting close to your body and if you don’t think you can lift it safely on your own, find some help. Bend your knees and push with your legs rather than your back and make sure you turn with your feet, not your back.
When driving make sure you are positioned comfortably and take regular breaks on long journeys, at least once every two hours.
These simple exercises are great to do at work and can help to avoid musculoskeletal aches and pains:
Neck rotation – Slowly turn your head left then right keeping your eyes on the horizon – hold for a few seconds in each direction and then repeat three times.
Chin tuck – Sit tall and whilst keeping your eyes on the horizon, tuck your chin in to make a double chin. Hold for five seconds and repeat three times.
Forearm stretch – interlock your fingers with your palms facing away from you. Press your palms away from your body. You should feel a stretch through the fingers, arms and muscles between the shoulder blades. Hold for five seconds.
Sit tall – put the heel of your hands into your lower back and draw your elbows back and down. Keep your head and neck steady with your chin slightly tucked in and lift your chest towards the ceiling. Hold for five seconds and repeat three times.
Need some help?
I hope the above information was useful. If you think that work is causing your symptoms, get in touch. We can discuss the impact that your work may have on your body and create an individual treatment plan that can help. As well as osteopathic treatment to ease your musculoskeletal symptoms, I can advise you on posture, lifting and your workplace ergonomics. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns or questions. You can find my contact information here!