If you’ve been working in an office setting for a while, you’re likely no stranger to regular aches and pains. One such widespread grievance among office employees seems to be shoulder pain and other office ergonomic injuries. Are you suffering from this health issue too? If so, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to prevent shoulder pain!
Shoulder pain, chronic or not, can be a painful experience. Not to mention, it can hinder your productivity and make everyday tasks a lot more challenging. So it is hardly a surprise that you want to know how to prevent it.
However, before we get into that, let’s first discuss what shoulder pain is.
What Is Shoulder Pain?
The complex nature in which shoulder joints connect muscles and tendons lets you use your arms for work. However, continued repetitive and awkward movements can strain these muscles and tendons, resulting in shoulder pain.
While this condition’s names may vary between shoulder pain, repetitive strain injury (RSI), or cumulative trauma disorder, its causes don’t. Most often, you will find that this is the result of work-related tasks. Here are some familiar sources of shoulder pain due to work:
- Awkward sitting posture
- Static loading (maintaining one position for an extended period)
- Mechanical contact stress (say, resting wrists against a hard disk edge)
- Working with arms above shoulder-level
A common misconception around shoulder pain is only physically intensive jobs can cause it. However, this is far from the truth—several RSIs result from working on computers and sedentary work environments. So taking the necessary measures for shoulder injury prevention is a must. Taking care of your shoulder, in other word, your health is a good way to invest in yourself.
How To Avoid Shoulder Injuries At Work
For the average office employee, an ergonomic workspace is the simplest way to prevent shoulder pain. So if you work long hours at a desk, these tips on improving work environments might prove useful to you.
1. Improve Your Sitting Posture
It is crucial to maintain the correct posture when sitting at a desk. Here’s how you can do that:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t seem to reach it, use a stool or footrest.
- Ensure your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Opt for an office chair with proper lumbar support.
- Armrests are also crucial for shoulder injury prevention. Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Maintain your wrists and hands in line with your forearms.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Over time, your body may slouch in your chair. However, bear in mind that this worsens posture and increases the stress on the body. If you find maintaining good posture a challenge, take up some yoga or tai chi. Such exercises strengthen the body’s core and enhance overall posture.
2. Make Your Workspace Ergonomic
A lot of times, shoulder pain is a result of a poorly arranged workspace. When sitting, ensure your desk is level with your elbows, so you don’t need to strain upwards to reach it.
Place your computer monitor an arm’s length away from you and just two inches below eye level. Besides, it is best to center both your monitor and keyboard in front of you. Repeated twisting to look at your display may also be a cause for shoulder pain.
Finally, ensure any objects you use frequently are within easy reach. If not, stretching for them may result in shoulder pain or injuries.
3. Opt For A Headset
A headset is necessary to prevent shoulder pain for those who spend hours on the phone at work. If you prefer not to use one, consciously avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder. When you place the phone within quick reach of your non-dominant hand, you can continue working with your other hand.
4. Switch Stuff Around
One simple trick that can help in shoulder injury prevention is reorganizing your work desk from time to time. For instance, consider switching the placement of your mouse. When you do this, it gives your normal mouse hand a much-needed break. This tip will be especially beneficial to those who have pain in only one of their shoulders.
Also, mix things up a bit in terms of your work schedule. Keep switching between tasks after a set interval instead of sticking to one activity for hours on end. This switch will allow the stress to shift from one muscle group to another, keeping you both healthy and productive.
5. Microbreaks And Walks
Let’s do some short break in long-hour working time to walk to prevent shoulder pain. A healthy practice to employ at work is taking a 30-second microbreak after every 30 minutes. Keep in mind, though, that this break isn’t for slumping into your chair regardless of how exhausted you are. Instead, use it to shake out your hands and arms to get rid of any stiffness.
Also, focus your sight on any point around 20 feet away from you to relax your eyes, head, and neck. Besides this, you want to take a walking break of a minimum of 10 minutes every 2-3 hours. Put your lunch break to better use with a longer walk as well.
6. Practice Deep Breathing
This tip might not be the first to come to mind when you’re considering ways to prevent shoulder injuries. However, breathing has a lot to do with posture, which affects shoulders and shoulder pain.
When you breathe in a relaxed manner, you ensure your muscles aren’t tense. So as you’re sitting at your desk, take in a few deep belly breaths. Let the calmness and relaxation sink in, and notice the boost in your productivity. Yes, the more relaxed you are, the easier it is for you to make better and level-headed decisions.
With this article, you now know a few simple and easy-to-implement tips on how to prevent shoulder pain. The takeaway here is to jump on-board the ergonomic office trend. Along with that, make a conscious effort to work on your posture as well.
Also, make an appointment with a professional immediately if the pain is consistent or unbearable. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Prior treatment can not only relieve your symptoms but reduce the chances of future complications.
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