Let’s all agree right off the bat that we spend way too much time in front of our computers.
These days, no matter what your industry, you constantly have to be connected and have an online presence. This means investing a significant amount of your time with your computer. I know that in our office, aside from our field engineers, most of us spend about 95% of our time sitting at our desks in front of our computer screens. That is bound to have an impact on us physically.
So for everyone else out there who also spends the majority of their time sitting at a computer, here are some of the most common problems and what you can do about them.
1. Lower back aches
There are a few different ways you can prevent or help lower back aches. One is to have an ergonomically designed chair. These chairs were designed to help take pressure off of your back.
Next, posture. Most of us have terrible posture, we are constantly slouching. Try sitting upright in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders back. Hold this pose for as long as you can. Then, give yourself a rest. If you do this once every couple of hours you should start to see improvement in your posture.
Third, if you don’t have an ergonomic chair in your office, try to bring something in that you can stick in your chair to provide you with lower back support. I recommend the Total Pillow. You can buy it really cheap at CVS, it is small and discreet, and it twists into many different shapes that can help provide you with support. It also happens to be a fantastic traveling companion for long train or plane rides.
2. Carpal Tunnel
When I first mentioned to a colleague of mine that I was starting to have some pain in my hands and wrists, his response was, “Oh yeah, you’re probably getting carpal tunnel. It’s a side effect of working in this industry.” I was amazed at how easily he brushed it off. Carpal Tunnel is a real problem, and with people spending more and more time in front of their computers, it should be something to worry about. There are a couple different ways I have found to help prevent this.
First, if you can, get one of pads that goes in front of your keyboard to rest your wrists on while you type. This keeps your hands at a more natural angle. It is also better to use a keyboard drawer if you have one. This keeps your hands lower which is also a more natural position for your arms and helps with circulation.
Next, make sure to do some wrist and arm stretches every hour or so. Bend your hands forward and backwards and really stretch out your muscles. Also, make sure to stretch out your arms as well. Regular stretching will help build up your muscles.
3. Feet and Leg Circulation
Spending 8 hours a day in a sitting position is not actually good for our bodies. If you have ever been on an international plane ride, one that is ten hours or more, they have a brochure and a video they show that recommends doing stretches and getting up every so often to walk around the plane. The same ideas should be applied in a workplace. Spending 8 hours a day (or even 6 hours a day) sitting in a chair, 5 days a week…that’s a lot more than 10 hours.
First, get up and walk around. Even if it’s just a 5 minute stroll around the office or a 10 minute stroll outside, get up and work your legs.
Next, do some stretches. Roll out your ankles, take off your shoes for a minute and stretch out your toes. Stand up next to your desk and do some calf raises (rise up on your toes).
Stretching will also help you combat that “2:30 feeling” that seems to hit around 10 AM and stay until about 4:30 PM. Take a few minutes to get up, stretch, walk, and drink some cold water. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.
It is important for those of us who spend the majority of our day sitting to recognize that our bodies are not designed for that. If our jobs require that we spend most of our day at a desk in front of the computer, then it is vital for us to make sure that we don’t stop taking care of our health and our bodies.
Do you have any other suggestions for how to combat the computer body issues? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!