One of the most common places I hear my patients talk about experiencing pain, whether it is in their neck, back or shoulders is during or after work. This is true even, and some times more frequently, from office jobs. Many of the physical, labor intensive jobs have on the job training that reviews or teaches proper lifting techniques to prevent injury. Office jobs however, rarely educate you on the potentials of good work ergonomics or common strategies to avoid neck and back pain from prolonged sitting. If your work is of the more physical type, the common remark I hear from patients who do end up hurting themselves is they feel like you don’t have time to think of proper lifting or moving techniques. Below are some tips and things to try to help decrease or prevent pain at work.
- Take Frequent Small Breaks – this is much easier said than done, I know. Which is why there are different apps or alarms that be used to help remind you to give up and move. Even a couple minutes of changing your posture can really help
- Postural Myth– Often time we focus on this concept of an “ideal” posture, however that idea is really a myth. Ultimately maintaining any fixed posture for hours at a time can cause pain. Instead of focusing on getting better at just sitting up “straight”, focus on being able to change your posture frequently.
- Sit/Stand desks – This concept is more than a fad as it touches on the concept above. Being able to change your posture and move from a flexed sitting position to a more extended standing position can give different structures of the back and neck a break. This doesn’t mean you need to stand the entire time, it just gives you an easy method of moving throughout your work day.
- If Sitting Sucks Try a Back Bend – If a certain posture of pattern emerges as pain, such a sitting and bending, then often times the opposite motion can alleviate the pain. Doing 8-12 repetitively can provide lasting relief for some. If this seems to make it worse, discontinue trying.
- Neck Rolls/Neck Stretches – If the neck is tightening up on you, let pain be your remind to gently roll your neck. Movement is the theme here and often the static one position can weight heavy on the body. Another is a gentle neck stretch by grabbing one of the chair with one hand and leaning the head and shoulders the opposite way.
Labor Intense Work:
- Warm-up – Research over the past few years has been emphasizing much more of the warm-up than stretching before physical activity. If your job has you lifting, pushing, and/or carrying heavy items, make sure you warm-up.
- Functional Exercise – Even though your job is physically demanding, it is important to incorporate at least 1-2 days of resistance training. Often times our work requires repetitive movements and at quicker paces. This can certainly lead to over loading your body causing injury. Take time to practice basic movements, such as the squat and dead lift, in a controlled to make sure the proper mechanics are second nature to you while you work.
- Speak Up if Things Don’t Feel Right – This one is also easier said than done. Often time we do not want to put more work on our co-workers by taking a light duty day, however it is imperative you do. If you are experiencing the beginnings of pain, such a increasing tightening around the back, let your supervisor know.
- Eating Right – When we put are body through daily stress and strain, it is important you feed it foods that will help with recovery (hint lots of vegetables, some starches such as rice and yams, plus some mixed protein source). This should be accompanied by reducing or eliminating foods that tend to inflame the body, such as simple sugars
- Hydrate and Vitamin C – This one is one of the simplest things you can do. Providing your body with adequate amount of water while performing a physical activity at your job is necessarily to reduce delay on set muscle, as well as supplemented or getting a daily source of vitamin C.
-Dr. Daniel Agosta, DC
Dr. Daniel Agosta is a board certified chiropractic physician with an emphasis in Sports Medicine. He received his Bachelors of Science degree in Biomedical Science from Grand Valley State University, which provided him the groundwork for understanding the human body. In addition to sports injuries, Dr. Agosta is highly skilled in treating disc injuries, acute/chronic low back and neck pain, injuries related to automotive or work accidents and your everyday aches and pains. Learn more about Dr. Daniel Agosta.