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June 14, 2023

Tips for avoiding aches and pains when you have a desk job

Adult Health Work

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Desk work is rarely physically strenuous, but it can leave you with aches and pains and potentially lead to long-term health problems. Fortunately, most of these issues can be easily avoided by making a few small changes to your routine and workspace.

Here’s what you should know about how to make your workday a healthy, pain-free one.

Desk work hazards

The biggest danger of working at a desk is sitting for long periods of time. Research has linked that with numerous health problems, including obesity and metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Sitting incorrectly can also cause problems, including neck and back pain. In the long term, it also can cause damage to the muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, cartilage, or spinal discs.

On top of that, working at a computer can lead to computer vision syndrome. Symptoms include blurred and/or double vision, and dry, red, or otherwise irritated eyes.

Don’t sit for it

The simplest way to avoid these problems is to limit the amount of time you spend sitting. One solution is to set a timer on your computer, or smart phone, that reminds you to stand up. Giving yourself a break from sitting every 30 minutes is probably ideal, but once every hour may be more realistic.

Some people avoid sitting altogether by getting a standing desk. Others opt for a sit-stand desk, which allows you to switch between sitting down and standing up at the touch of a lever. Even if you go for one of these options, however, you should still try to change your position every 30 to 60 minutes.


Whether you work sitting down or standing up, you need to be aware of your posture.

One way to do that is to have someone take a picture of you at your desk so you can check your posture. You should be looking straight ahead, your neck shouldn’t be bent, your forearms should be parallel to the floor, and your lower back should be in its natural curve.

To make that possible, be sure:

• you can see your computer screen without straining.
• you don’t have to reach up or down to use your keyboard or mouse.
• your monitor is aligned with your keyboard.
• you don’t have to strain to reach for anything you use frequently.

If you’re sitting, make sure your chair allows your feet to rest on the ground and your spine to maintain its normal curvature. Also, make sure its armrests are low enough to allow your shoulders to relax.

If you’re standing, set your feet about shoulder-width apart, tuck your pelvic bone inward, and align your torso with your hips. Then, loosen and roll your shoulder blades backwards and downwards, and keep your head over your spine.

The eyes have it

In addition to helping your posture, positioning your computer screen correctly will benefit your eyes. Putting any printed materials you’re working with on a stand next to your monitor can also be helpful. Doing this will prevent you from having to constantly move your neck and refocus your vision.

Modifying lighting to reduce glare and harsh reflections on your screen can also help your eyes. So can following the 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking away from your computer screen every 20 minutes, and instead, focusing on something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Working it

Not sitting or maintaining the same position too long is beneficial. But if you have the opportunity to do more, you should.

If you’re back in the office, the next time you’re involved in a small meeting, see if your colleagues are willing to make it a walk-and-talk. Similarly, if you don’t have to take notes during a phone call, try walking around during the call.

Regardless of whether you’re at work or home, you can do stretching exercises without getting up. And, if you’re up for something more strenuous, try “exercise snacks.” These are short, but intense, exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, and stair climbing that you can do for one to two minutes at a time, several times a day.

Summing up

Although it rarely causes you to break a sweat, desk work can be hard on your body.

But it doesn’t have to be. And with the simple tips listed above, you can help make sure it isn’t!

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