The statistics on work-related repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are dire – the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that RSIs lead to about 2.73 workers compensation claims totaling $20 billion in a single year. Corporate ergonomics departments and employee fitness programs are combating these astronomical figures, however our society still has a long way to go.
As an office employee, you can take control over your own pain and discomfort by incorporating stretches, self-massage, ergonomic apparatuses, and dietary changes into your daily workflow. Take a look at these tips and techniques to reduce work-related pain and stress.
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These aren’t the stretches you’re used to from high school gym class. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements and your body’s momentum to increase your range of motion. Some athletes prefer dynamic stretches to static stretches because they more accurately mimic the types of movements you need to perform in training, such as running, cycling, and swimming. Additionally, dynamic stretches can help your body warm up faster, allowing you to blend vigorous movements with your stretching routine.
Dynamic stretch tutorials can be found online or they might be taught at your local gym. They often include movements like lunges, kicks, squats, and limb swinging. These might be a little difficult for you to perform while in the office, so you might want to visit a park or open area during a break or lunch hour.
The next time you’re at a fitness store or gym, take a look at the fitness supplies. If you find a foam roller, consider picking one up for your home or office. These deceptively simple tools can be used for an in-depth and highly effective self-massage. The idea is to use your body weight and the foam roller to apply pressure to various muscle groups on your body, helping to improve your circulation and relax knots.
Foam rolling uses a massage concept called myofascial release, which advocates for the use of slight pressure against muscular adhesions, or knots. Popular foam roller target areas include the IT band, the hips, the hamstrings, and the calves. It is not recommended that you use a foam roller on your neck or back.
Check in with your employer to see if they have an in-house ergonomic department or program. If your organization relies heavily on office workers, chances are they’ve invested in ergonomic furniture and supplies. If they don’t have these resources, you might want to consider altering your environment with supplies from home, including wrist supports, foot rests, and chair cushions. If you find yourself propping a telephone on your shoulder frequently, consider using a hands-free headset instead. Visit a doctor if you are suffering from chronic work-related pain. A physician can help you identify the movements and environmental factors contributing to these conditions, allowing you to take preventative measures.
Change Your Diet
Long hours in front of a computer won’t do wonders for your neck, shoulders, and other muscles. But your diet can ultimately affect how tense you become during the workday and how quickly your body can recover from stressful positions. High caffeine intake can lead to dehydration, which can make muscle cramps more severe. Disorders such as fibromyalgia seem to be linked to diet, with some patients reporting reductions in pain after changing their food intake to a more balanced diet. It is possible that your body is aching because it is lacking nutrients. The best way to find out is to schedule a blood test with your physician and eating diverse types of foods at meal times.
You shouldn’t be controlled by RSIs and work-related pan. These issues can be relieved through changes in your environment, diet, and activity. Test these methods out to see if they reduce your symptoms.