Is work becoming a pain in the back?

October 02, 2012

By Dr. Livia Chiarelli DC

Calling all busy and motivated Torontonians! It’s time to stop suffering from back pain, neck and shoulder stiffness after a long day at the office.  These aches and pains are often due to improper workstation set-ups.  Redesigning your workstation will not only help reduce tight, sore muscles and joints but can also help improve productivity.

Complete these simple steps to help achieve optimal ergonomics at your workspace and get working well:

  1. Adjust chair height so feet are flat on the floor or footrest.  This will ensure your knees and torso are at roughly the same height.
  2. Keep your wrist posture neutral.  Avoid bending your wrists sharply upward or downward to type.
  3. Position the keyboard so that your elbows are at no more than a 90 degree angle.  A keyboard tray may be required in order to achieve this position.
  4. Keep your monitor within 20 and 40 inches of your face.  This distance will reduce eyestrain.
  5. Adjust monitor so its center is at eye level and directly in front of you.
  6. Sit all the way back in your chair.  A chair with a low back (lumbar support) is best, however a rolled up towel or sweater can also help.
  7. Arrange desk items within sight and reach.  You should not need to stretch to reach frequently used items.


Now that you’re well set up, it is important to keep in mind that changing body positions every 15-20 minutes is more effective and less painful on the body than holding any one posture for too long, even if that posture is said to be “perfect”.

Set a mental cue to stand up a few times a day. Whether you answer the phone while standing up, reply to your email standing up, or dance “Gangnam Style” every time you have the urge to check your facebook. The movement will allow you to stretch and help your muscles relax.

It is more difficult to recover from injury than it is to prevent it, so don’t wait until you begin to have back, neck or shoulder problems before making these changes,.  If work-related aches and pains have already set in, visit to your chiropractor or massage therapist at IHI to help relieve tight muscles and sore joints.

Dr. Chiarelli DC is a Chiropractor who practices integrative medicine at IHI. She believes in utilizing a number of techniques such as Contemporary Medical Acupuncture, joint manipulation, and ART (Active Release Technique) with the aim of improving function and reducing pain for her clients.

Photo Credit Joe Loong via Compfight

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