Keeping the “Ouchies” Away and Staying Healthy at your Desk Job
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I’m a Mom, so yes. I said ouchies. I am also no longer in my teens/twenties (if you know how old I am, you be quiet), so I find myself with more aches and pains than I used to especially since I started more desk work since opening my digital marketing agency. Specifically, I have been struggling with my shoulders, knees and lower back…and my wrists…and my head….ok, everything hurts. I have spent a lot of time over the last couple months researching ways that I can help to treat and prevent the aches and pains that come with sitting at a desk all day.
1. Don’t sit all day.
Get yourself a standing desk. If you can’t afford to buy a whole new desk there are some decent standing desk converters that you can buy from Amazon like this one, which is the one that I use. I also like this one because I can move it around my house depending on where I feel like standing. If I feel like moving upstairs to my bedroom, moving out to the deck in the summer, to the kitchen while I make supper, or even to the floor if I want to sit on the floor, it is easily moveable.
2. Get a smart watch.
I was against this at the beginning because I really didn’t want a device bugging me and then making me feel bad for the low number of steps that I take in a day. However, what I do like about it is that I can set the watch to remind me to stand up after a certain amount of time sitting. I am also bad at remembering to stop for my breaks/lunch because I get completely hyper-focused on a task and before I know it, it’s 3pm. I found that setting alarms on my watch (set to only vibrate) would shake me out of that hyper-focused state and remind me to take a break, fuel my body and hydrate.
3. There’s an App for that!
If smart watches aren’t your thing, there are many apps out there that will help you to schedule your breaks for the day and some even give you stretching suggestions.
Break Reminder (TheBigMom)
Stand UP and take a BREAK (Adrian Pislaru)
4. Get moving!
It’s important to get up and stretch at least once an hour. There are some basic and easy stretches that you can do right at your desk to help you work out stiffness caused by sitting for too long. Just two minutes of stretching and your body will thank you. YouTube is also a great resource for free, quick, and easy stretching routine videos that you can do right from your desk.
Stand up while you take a phone call. Get a Bluetooth headset or put your phone on speaker and walk back and forth in your office while you take your call or sit through a meeting where cameras aren’t required.
Going for a half an hour walk at the beginning and/or end of your day will also help to warm up your muscles in the morning and stretch them out at the end of the day. Plus, BetterHealth Channel reports that a half an hour walk per day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, just to name a couple.
5. Fuel and Hydration
As I mentioned before, I am bad for forgetting to eat and drink water during the day when I am working. I try to make sure that I keep a small bowl of trail mix on my desk along with a granola bar and a huge bottle of water. I keep them where I can see them because if I tuck them in a drawer or set them on the floor beside me it’s “out of sight out of mind” and I will forget/ignore it’s existence. When the reminders on my watch go off to remind me to take my breaks, the first thing I do is drink some water and eat a handful of trail mix or go and find another snack.
Did you know that you can get a water bottle that reminds you to drink your water? Cool, right? This one by HidrateSpark is super cool looking, tracks water intake, and glows to remind you to drink your water, you silly goose!
6. Chiropractor and massage therapy
If your work offers benefits and it includes chiropractor and/or massage therapy – USE IT. Employees often forget or don’t know that the benefits packages offered by their work can fully or partially cover chiropractic or massage therapy work. Some even have wellness plans that will give you money towards gym membership fees.
If you happen to work for yourself or a company that doesn’t offer benefits, do some research on prices in your area. If you’re willing to let a student work on you, some massage therapy and chiropractor schools will offer free or discounted services so that their students can get practical experience before going into the field.
7. Posture Check.
Posture is everything and as the day progresses even, I find myself slouching. Then the pain in the back of my neck starts and that ache in my lower back. There are a few simple things you can do check your posture, so let’s check yours right now.
Back should be against the back of your chair
Knees at hip level
Feet flat on the floor (for my short friends, you may need a stool)
Screen is at eye level (You may need to raise your screen using a platform)
Keyboard is straight in front of you at natural elbow height
Ergonomic chair (height adjustable with proper back support)
Use a headset or speaker phone for calls instead of cradling your phone in your neck
If you find yourself slouching, it’s time to get up and stretch out those muscles.
8. Accountability friends.
Start a Facebook group or a WhatsApp group with your coworkers, friends, and family that are also desk workers and keep each other accountable for drinking water, taking breaks, and to get moving. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little push and motivation. The social contact is also good for a “brain break”.
Sitting all day can cause a myriad of problems that we are all too young to be dealing with. The good news is that it’s not too late to make the above minor changes and adjustments to your day to ensure your physical health while you rock the socks off your desk job.
That said, let me be your accountability friend today: It's time to stand up and get your deskercise on! Come on! Up, up! You got this!