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October 2022 is Musculoskeletal Health Month
How to prevent aches and pains while on the clock
Whether you are on your feet all day or spend most of your time at a desk, it is important to have a work environment that promotes musculoskeletal wellness. Musculoskeletal wellness focuses on the way your movement impacts your muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.
For example, awkward body postures or performing the same or similar tasks repetitively at work can lead to poor posture or injuries. A large portion of the American workforce sits for over 4 to 6 hours a day. This may lead to low back pain and posture issues. Those who work from home should also have a comfortable workspace and practice good habits to prevent injuries. It can be easy to set up shop anywhere in the house. The way you sit or type can cause your posture to suffer and lead to aches and pains.
Prolonged sitting paired with poor posture can lead to muscular imbalances. It causes low back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. It seems like it is comfy to slouch — maybe even lean back and swivel a bit. But this posture is harmful. Try this instead: Sit all the way back in your chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back to protect your spine’s natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher than your hips. Place your feet flat on the floor.
While it is important to focus on how you sit, one of the best things you can do throughout the day is to get up and move. Movement gives your body a chance to get out of the same position. Try to stand or move 5-15 minutes each hour. Simply standing up and shifting or lifting your legs up and down can go a long way.
Posture is key, even when you are standing. Try to remember the following cues while you stand: feet forward and parallel, legs hip-width apart, hips neutral, and head looking forward. Ask yourself how you your body feels or how your posture feels when you stand. You might become aware of the footwear you have on as you pay attention to your body. Shoes with a minimal heel lift and a wide toe box are ideal. Shifting your weight back and forth is also a great way to activate muscles and fight against staying in one position while you stand.
If you are struggling with aches and pains, talk with your healthcare provider. Healthcare providers can assess your symptoms and help you receive the proper treatment and prevention options.