5 Ways To Fix Your Desk-Job Aches

30 May 2021

In this age of hunchback, where many of us spend our days hunched over computer screens with our shoulders rolled forward, necks strained forward and spines rounded, we are wrecking havoc with our posture, bones and joints. As a result, our muscles, bones and joints may become susceptible to desk-job aches.

Here are five common desk-job aches workers may identify with:

What you feel: a burning ache at the back of your neck throughout the day

What it might be: You’re constantly craning your head forward to read those chunks of text or get a better look at charts.

What to do: Raise or lower your screen such that the top of the viewing area is at or slightly below eye level. Adjust the distance of your monitor to an arm’s length away. Take frequent breaks to gently stretch your neck. This is especially so if your job requires you to spend a lot of time bent over a desk. This helps to prevent desk-job aches – in this case in the neck. Raise and lower your shoulders, do slow neck circles and pull your shoulders back while tilting your head to each side.

What you feel: a sharp pain at the base of your thumb and the inside of your hand when you turn your wrist or grasp a handle

What it might be: Usually referred to as ‘mummy thumb’, it’s common among new parents who constantly lift their children. At work, you could be aggravating it when pounding on the keyboard or overusing your mouse.

Rehabilitation exercises for Desk-Job Aches

What to do: Practise the following rehabilitation exercises daily.
[1] Palm up, touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your little finger. Hold it for 6 secs then release, repeat 10 times.
[2] Hold a can in your hand with your palm facing up. Bend your wrist upward before slowly returning to the starting position. Hold for 15 secs, repeat 3 times.
[3] Squeeze a soft rubber ball and hold it for 5 seconds, do 2 sets of 15.
[4] Place a large rubber band around the outside of your thumb and fingers. Open your fingers to stretch the rubber band. Do 2 sets of 15.

What you feel: Sore wrists or elbows at the end of the day

What it might be: Sounds like the same problem above. However, this form of tendonitis is most commonly suffered by desk bound workers. Holding your tablet for too long (perhaps the bus ride to and fro work) could also be worsening the issue.

What to do: Ensure your arms are relaxed while typing, elbows should be at a 90 angle and your forearms parallel to the floor. Keep your wrists neutral, not flexed or extended, and relax your fingers and hands.

What you feel: A wall of tension in your lower back

What it might be: When sitting in that chair for a long period, you have a natural tendency to slouch over or down in the chair and this posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine.

What to do: Ensure your back is aligned against the back of the office chair, keep your knees even with the hips and both feet flat on the floor. When you can, get up! Walk around and stretch as needed.

What you feel: A persistent numbness, tingling or pain in your index finger, middle finger or thumb

What it might be: You may be a victim of carpal tunnel syndrome, the infamous office malady that affects those who spend the majority of their time using the mouse. Such nerve injuries are more serious and take longer to heal than tendon and muscle problems.

What to do: Check that your chair isn’t too low, forcing you to type with your wrists at an upward angle. Place one arm straight out in front of you, elbow straight with your wrist extended and fingers facing the floor. Spread your fingers slightly and use your other hand to apply gentle pressure, stretching your wrist and fingers as far as you can. Hold this for 20 secs and repeat on the other hand.

Here’s a quick guide to ergonomic seating:

Chair Ergonomics and Desk-Job Aches

Experiencing elbow or wrist pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for elbow or wrist pain relief and how Core Concepts can help