Combating Joint Stiffness and Arthritis Risks On the Job
Whether you work in an executive suite, a cubical, a home office or a library study carrel, if you have a “desk job,” you occupy a sedentary work environment. And all of that sitting and typing can be more detrimental to your body than you realize. Working in any kind of office setting can put you at risk for stiff joints, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
Learn how to minimize office pains with these simple innovations and easy tricks:
Wrists and Hands
- Use a cushioned keyboard and mouse pad to alleviate strain on your wrists and hands while you work on the computer.
- Consider getting an ergonomic keyboard for a more natural wrist alignment when you type.
- Think about switching to a track pad and getting rid of the mouse altogether if working with a mouse is wreaking havoc on your fingers and wrists.
- Position your computer screen at eye level to avoid strain on your neck caused by looking down. Use an adjustable computer screen or prop up your monitor with a couple of sturdy books to get the height you need.
- Transition to a headset, Bluetooth device or other hands-free phone system to avoid neck pain often caused by holding your phone between your head and your shoulder while you talk and type.
- Try a document holder when reading paper documents to avoid neck strain. With a document holder, your eyes and neck move side to side instead of up and down.
- Make sure that your chair has lumbar support built into it. If your chair doesn’t have this feature, create DIY support for your lower back with a rolled-up towel or small pillow.
- Adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair or your own height won’t allow for this, use a footrest to prevent your legs from dangling.
- Be conscious of how you are sitting and make sure to correct your posture throughout the day.
- Switch to comfortable footwear when you can. Even if heels and dress shoes are a workplace style, you can swap them for sneakers during your commute. Inserts can provide or add support in any pair you wear.
- Consider upgrading your workstation to a standup desk. This popular trend allows you to stand while you work, which can ease the burden on your lower back.
Overall Body Function
- Take short walking breaks or take a moment to move at your desk to break up long periods of sitting still and keep muscles from getting too stiff.
- Stretch throughout your workday to break up repetitive movements. Remember that your neck, wrists and fingers need to be stretched too.
- Don't be afraid to use an ice pack. This can easily relieve pain and loosen muscles when and where you need it the most.
Your workplace doesn’t have to cause or exacerbate existing joint pain or arthritis. Be aware of how your work environment influences your movements and joints and pay attention to how changes in your routine – even small ones – can make a difference in how you feel. So make listening to your body part of your job description!
While you’re off duty, make sure to get the exercise your body needs and keep your weight within a healthy range. This can noticeably help reduce joint pain and reduce your risk for developing stiffness and arthritis, both on and off the job. [End Sidebar]