Are you suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain? Have you noticed more pain and tightness since working from home? If so, you may have “Office Syndrome”!
Office Syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur after holding an improper posture for prolonged periods of time. It is typically seen in people sitting in the same position for hours while working in front of computer screens.
Some symptoms of Office Syndrome include:
- Backache, neck and shoulder pain
- Numbness of fingers and arms
- Tendonitis including De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and Tennis elbow
- Dry eyes
- Feelings of sadness or depression
Neck and upper body pain are more common among desk bound workers than any other occupation. One study showed that neck and upper body pain affects 42 – 63% of office workers every year (Chen et al, 2018). This can impact your performance, health and productivity not only during work, but also your quality of life during leisure time.
Office syndrome is exacerbated by incorrect workspace layouts. Inappropriate table heights, incorrect positioning of computer screens and prolonged sitting leads to slouching forward, causing a stretch on the neck and back muscles. Over time, this sustained slouching posture leads to the development of Office Syndrome symptoms.
With more time being spent sitting in front of computer screens, having an appropriate workspace set up is important! It helps in the prevention and minimization of Office Syndrome symptoms. More often than not, your home workstation set-up is often much worse than your office workspace.
Image credit: healthandbalance.com.au
Here’s some tips on setting up a proper workspace:
- Position the top of monitor in front of your eye line.
- Make sure your head is stacked directly above your neck and not leaning forward towards the monitor. This prevents slouching and stress on your neck muscles.
- Relax your shoulders!
- Keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Elbows bent to 90-100 degrees angle, creating a “L-shape”.
- Sit up straight and rest on the back rest of your chair. Use a rolled-up towel behind the lower back curve to provide support if needed.
- Maintain a small gap between the knees and the chair.
- Knees at the same level or slightly lower than the hips.
- Keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest to elevate if necessary.
- Maintain an equal weight on both legs and feet if in a standing position.
- Change your position or take a movement break every 20 – 30 minutes! (see our exercise tips below!)
4 simple desk exercises to add to your movement breaks:
#1 Neck stretch: Prevent neck and shoulder aches and tightness
#2 Seated Spine Twist: To loosen and mobilize middle back
#3 Wrist stretch: To prevent tight wrists from typing
#4 Seated Pigeon Stretch: To loosen and prevent tight hips and release lower back
These ergonomic and exercise tips will be helpful in the prevention and treatment of Office Syndrome at the office and for those working from home. If your symptoms persist or you would like more information, do seek a physiotherapist!
You may choose to book an appointment with us for an individualized assessment and treatment plan. Our physiotherapist will also be able to advise on the correct set-up of your workstation at home.
Emma Lawson, Physiotherapist