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Is Your Job *Literally* a Pain in the Neck?

There are a number of taxing activities in your ninja repertoire that could potentially necessitate physical therapy: climbing office shelving units, chasing after frazzled executives, dodging an ambush after announcing the leftover cake in the kitchen… But, what may be wreaking the most havoc on your body is what you do on your quieter days: sitting at your desk.

Ever spend a full day glued to your computer only to wake up the next morning with an aching back, stiff neck and a shooting pain between your shoulders? The truth is that the human body wasn’t designed to sit hunched over a computer all day, but here we are.

So what’s a ninja to do? We consulted Shanté Cofield, DPT, aka “The Movement Maestro,” for her advice.

Start with Your Station

The Desk

Proper ergonomics will help ensure that you’re spending your 8+ hours in a neutral sitting position that minimizes stress and injury to your body. You can read Shanté’s detailed post on the optimum configuration of your workstation, but here are a few key points:

  • Adjust your chair so that your feet rest on the floor and your knees and hips are bent at a 90 degree angle. “Regarding workstation posture I often tell my patients to think of L’s, as this is the shape your hips, knees, and ankles should form,” Shanté explains.
  • Place all the desktop items you use most frequently directly in front of you within arm’s reach. Adjust your computer monitor so that the top edge is at eye level.
  • Use a headset or bluetooth. “Please stop craning your neck to the side in a feeble attempt to pinch your phone between your ear and your neck à la Zack Morris,” Shanté advises.

Practice Good Posture

The Wall TestPosture is habitual.  So if you’re used to hunching, you may not even know what healthy posture feels like. Enter Shanté’s “Wall Test:”

Stand with your heels, glutes, and upper back against a wall. Remember, you should have only about a hands-worth of space between the wall and your lower back. From here, gently, emphasis on GENTLY, draw your shoulders back and down to ensure that they are touching the wall… Your rib cage should not pop up when you do this. Next, retract (tuck in) your chin using the muscles in the front of your neck to get the back of your head to touch the wall. At this point, your ears should be in line with your shoulders. This right here is the ideal alignment for your head and neck.

Mobilize!

If you’ve got 5 minutes and an empty conference room, you can do these “arm sweeps” at work. Otherwise, incorporate this mobility exercise into your morning routine, post workout stretch session or pre-bed ritual. This move is great for stretching and mobilizing the shoulders, spine and hips.

Our goal is to help you maintain your workplace warrior intensity for years to come. You can’t do that with an achin’ back! So get your workspace and posture in check, and don’t forget to mobilize!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how do your workstation ergonomics score?

(Images via TheMovementMaestro)

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