At Reger Physical Therapy, our Anchorage PT staff works with hundreds of people every year who sustain injuries on the job. Believe it or not, these are not just people with physically demanding jobs, like construction workers or police officers (although we work with plenty of people from these professions, too!). In fact, many people who come to us for help with a work-related injury have relatively sedentary jobs (e.g., office and/or computer work).
So, what is it about a desk job that can lead to injury? As it turns out, repetitive movement (e.g., typing, overhead movements) and poor body mechanics (slouching, poor workplace ergonomics) can lead to significant strain and stress on the delicate tissues in your neck, back, pelvis, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands. Prolonged sitting is well-known now for being hazardous to your health, and even excessive computer use can be problematic.
To keep yourself safe at work--no matter if you work in an office or on a construction site--keep this helpful acronym in mind: SMART, or Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, and Talk to a physical therapist.
There are plenty of stretches you can do right at your desk to promote increased blood flow, decreased tension, and improved flexibility in your muscles and joints. Check out this video for some inspiring ideas.
The muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and other connective tissues in our spines can be come tight and stiff if we don't move around very much. Make sure that you get up and take a short walk at least once per hour, and ideally once every 30 minutes. Try a walk to the water fountain to fill up your water bottle--staying hydrated is a huge part of workplace safety and injury prevention, as dehydration can increase your risk of tissue damage.
Don't expect yourself to be perfect. Make one small change in your work environment and be consistent with it over the course of the next few weeks, before changing something else. Over time, these small changes should add up to big improvements in your overall health--plus, a healthier and more comfortable you will lead to a more productive and efficient worker. Improving your workplace health and avoiding repetitive strain injury is better for you and better for business!
Improving your posture and your desk orientation is the best way to reduce strain on your body. For example, make sure your computer monitor is at eye level and approximately 30 inches away from your face (about an arm's length away). For more information on improving your workplace ergonomics, click here.
Do you have acute or chronic pain? Talk to a physical therapist. We can help you solve a problem before it gets worse, and provide you with natural and effective PT techniques--including joint mobilization, work conditioning/hardening, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, balance and postural re-training, and therapeutic exercises--to heal your repetitive strain injury if one develops.
At Reger Physical Therapy, our Anchorage physical therapist team encourages you to take a peek at our website to learn more about the services we offer, and to peruse our educational topics that can teach you how to create and maintain a healthier body, at work, at play, and at home! If you're struggling with a work-related repetitive strain injury, then call (907) 677-9112 today to schedule an appointment with one of our Anchorage PTs.
We look forward to helping you!