Chained To Your Desk?
Back in the early days of the industrial revolution and before unions were organized, there were workers who were, for all intents and purposes, chained to their workstations leading to many tragic accidents. As a result, laws were put into place mandating regular hours with breaks and safer work stations. As the workforce has become more and more sedentary and more and more of us work at desks and on computers, those advances are being lost.
In spite of the legislated 40-hour work week, people are working longer hours than ever with little or no break. We are afraid even to leave our desks for lunch lest we be seen as not working hard enough or not pulling our weight. As well, long hours at the computer have introduced a whole new crop of repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, neck and lower back strain, and the list goes on!
While you may feel as though you are “chained” to your desk, you are not – so exercise your freedom! Here are some simple things you can do to help keep yourself healthy. If you spend lots of time on the phone, get a headset – especially if you are on the computer at the same time. The worst thing you can do to yourself is cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder while typing! Make sure your keyboard is directly below your screen so you aren’t turned at an angle. Make sure your mouse is at the same level as the keyboard and there is a mouse pad with some support for your wrist, especially if you spend a lot of time using your mouse.
Make sure your chair provides good support and that you are sitting in it properly – both feet flat on the floor, no exceptions. If the chair is too high so that your feet don’t touch the ground, place a box or thick phone book under your desk to rest your feet on. This will allow you to have your hips and knees at ninety-degree angles which is ideal to reduce hip and low back strain. Get up and walk around every 45-minutes to an hour – even if it’s just to the washroom. A change in activity will get the blood going and help clear your mind. Shake out your hands, roll your shoulders and neck while you walk. Stretch your muscles as you move and breathe! All these little tips will add up quickly and can really help to stave off injuries in the future.