The annual prevalence of neck pain among ‘office’ workers in Australia is as high as 82%. This is set to increase as more people are working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. Office workers on average spend 8 hours at the desk per day and therefore it is now more important than ever to ensure that employees and employers are doing their bit to prevent chronic neck pain. Managing neck pain in employees is very beneficial for employers as chronic neck pain is linked to diminished productivity and increased absenteeism due to pain. In Australia, serious workers compensation claims for neck pain only accounts for 2.2% of all claims, however chronic neck pain accounts for approx. $6.8 billion dollars spent on the chronic pain management plan within Australia each year. Here are five top tips to help prevent neck, shoulder and back pain whilst at work and for the future.
1. Sit to stand desks
Sit to stand desks help minimise long periods of time spent in sitting which can cause musculoskeletal injuries, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health. It is recommended that workers should spend 10 minutes standing, followed by 20 minutes sitting to begin with and progress as able to 20 minutes of each. A good idea is to leave the desk in standing when you leave at the end of the day so that you begin the next day in standing when you are feeling fresh.
Office chairs should have height and back rest adjustability to help reduce lower back pain. The backrest height needs to be set-up so that the curve of the back rest sits in the curve of your lower back and should be tilted forward 100-120 degrees for good spinal posture.
The computer screen should be set at eye level or lower approximately one arm’s length away to help reduce visual fatigue and a poked neck posture. If using more than one computer screen have the main screen in front and the second screen off to one side. When mainly using the second screen, move the chair to be in front of that screen to prevent twisting movements of the body.
Forearms should be rested on the desk with elbows at a 90-degree angle. The G/H keys of the keyboard need to be in in the centre of your body and the mouse sitting at the same level of the G/H keys to the right or left. If using a laptop you may require a separate keyboard and mouse to ensure good posture.
It’s not ideal to be standing on concrete or hard flooring if using a stand-up desk. A simple way to address this is by using a mat, however it is important that it isn’t too soft or too hard. A mat need to be a balance of soft yet supportive material. The ideal mat will compress slightly when standing on it but bounce back to shape when off it.
The team at Sunshine Coast Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology will be able to help complete any workplace assessments and give you advice on how to improve your workstation. Additionally, you can come in for an assessment on your neck and we can provide you with treatment/exercises to prevent or improve pre-existing neck or back conditions.
To book an appointment please call 5445 8292 or online at www.exercisephysiologyrehab.com