Is Work Literally Grinding You Down?

In most cases, a few easy tweaks to your routine can eliminate your aches and pains. Here are the facts, courtesy of the workplace experts at Rodale Publishing.

  • Eliminate unhealthy work habits. For instance, if you cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder so you can keep your hands free, you run the risk of developing neck strain. If you slide across the room on your swivel chair to use the FAX machine, you increase your odds of developing back strain.  The most common workplace injury is carpal tunnel syndrome – brought on by bending your wrists the wrong way while typing. The fix? Use a wrist rest, and set your keyboard further from the edge of your desk.
  • Take regular breaks. For most jobs, doctors recommend taking a 15-minute break for every two hours you work. Even if you only go outside for a quick walk around the parking lot, experts say breaks are essential for your mental and physical wellbeing. They’ll also make you much more productive. If your job requires continuous, repetitious motions, consider taking a 30-second “micro-break” for every 10 minutes you work. In those 10 seconds, shake out your fingers, arms and legs to keep the circulation going and roll your neck to loosen up and avoid headaches brought on by neck strain.
  • Finally, if workplace stress leaves you mentally drained: Root out the cause of your stress. For example, some people hunch over their desk because they’re uncomfortable about a boss looking over their shoulder. Others become tense when a gossipy co-worker walks in the same room.  Over time, that hunching and stressing can lead to bad posture, back pain or worse.  Dr. Christian Grant is a workplace ergonomics expert at the University of Michigan. He suggests looking for ways to resolve your mental and physical on-the-job stresses. For example, instead of having your back to the boss, rearrange your desk to FACE him, and if that chatty co-worker is a problem, ask for a cubicle where they’re out of sight, out of mind.  

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