For many of us, a typical day can involve hours of sitting in front of a desk. When you have a seemingly never-ending list of tasks to complete, your long-term health can be the last thing on your mind. However, we know that prolonged sitting, especially in a poorly set-up workspace can have a huge impact on your body in the long term. Below are some tips that can help you set up your workstation properly.
The height of your chair should be adjusted so your feet are (ideally) flat on the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor, or slightly sloping down. Your arms should be able to rest comfortably at the height of the desk with your elbows approximately 90 degrees by raising or lowering your chair to the height of the desk. Once the chair height is set you may need to implement a footrest to support your legs. This is preferred instead of lowering the chair again.
The backrest angle should be slightly reclined (approximately 10 degrees) and and the lumbar support should be raised or lowered to support a neutral lower back posture and not promote your back muscles to over work.
Arms length of the monitor from your face is advisable to reduce eye strain. Place your keyboard at the center of your desk 10-25cm from the desk edge, which should be 5-10cm above your thighs. You want the monitor and keyboard to be directly in front of you. Keep the mouse within easy reach of your keyboard. The top of the screen should be slightly below eye level..
Other tips for setting up your workstation include:
Put everything you need within easy reach.Don’t slouch. Practice moving in and out of a good posture.Stand up to reach anything that can’t be comfortably reached while sitting.Take active breaks from sitting every half hour or hour. Set an alarm that reminds you get up and stand and stretch for ten seconds then sit back down.Move, move, move
Transitioning to a standing desk:
Even better for some people than all these tips is to set up a standing work desk. Many people are making the switch to a movable working desk that allows you to spend periods of your working day on your feet with great results. Here’s some advice to make the transition a smooth one.
Get in the habit of standing for certain tasks and sitting for others. For example, complete repetitive tasks, phone calls or data entry while standing and more complex tasks while sitting.Reconsider your footwear. When standing, your feet and their support become more important than when you’re sitting all day. More comfortable shoes might be a worthy investment.Slowly increase the amount of time you spend standing to allow your body to adjust.
What is Shoulder Impingement?
Shoulder impingement is a very common shoulder condition, also called painful arc syndrome, supraspinatus syndrome, swimmer’s shoulder and thrower’s shoulder, it is due to mechanical compression and irritation of the soft tissues around the shoulder joint. It occurs in people of all ages, and affects males and females equally. If the impinged tissues are not treated appropriately, they can become extremely painful and cause significant difficulty during day-to-day activity.
How does it happen?
Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder are compressed against the humerus (upper arm bone) and the acromion process (a bony part of the top of the shoulder blade that protects the shoulder). This typically occurs in people who perform lots of repeated overhead activities. Some people also have bone and joint structures that put them at more risk than others in developing this condition, for example a curved or hooked acromiom rather than a flat one.
Shoulder impingement is usually classified in two ways: (1) Primary impingement – this usually happens in people over 40 years of age due to degeneration of the rotator cuff tendons, acromion process, and shoulder joint resulting in reduced space for soft tissues during shoulder movements; and, (2) Secondary impingement – typically seen in people aged 15 to 35 years old. In these cases, impingement is usually due to poor movement patterns and muscle imbalances that lead to impingement.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Pain located at the front or side of the shoulder during arm movements is the most common symptom of shoulder impingement. This pain typically occurs in an “arc” as a person lifts their arm. The start of the movement will be painless, becoming increasingly painful as the movement progresses and eventually is pain-free again. Pain with overhead reaching is a common complaint particularly in mid-range. The onset of pain is typically gradual with no known trauma.
Many people complain of difficulty with performing activities such as doing up buttons, zippers or getting a wallet from the back pocket. Patients will eventually avoid using the involved shoulder, which then leads to muscle weakness. Loss of movement will also develop due to pain. Pain may also interfere with sleep, particularly when rolling onto the involved shoulder.
Just like every other conditions, shoulder impingement begins with a medical history and evaluation. During, physical evaluation, the physician will try to reproduce the pain by twisting or elevating the patient’s arm. Diagnostic procedures like X-ray, MRI and Ultrasound scan are done to rule out other shoulder conditions.
How can physiotherapy help?
The primary goal of physiotherapy will first be to reduce pain before eventually restoring function and strength to the shoulder. Your physiotherapist will achieve this through stretching exercises, retraining of movement patterns, muscle releases, taping and resistance exercises. As the level of pain starts to decrease, strengthening exercises will be increased to allow your shoulder to function at its optimal level.
An important part of physiotherapy treatment is also education, which allows you to avoid a re-occurrence of shoulder impingement in the future. For patients who don’t respond to physiotherapy, cortisone injection or surgery are options to explore.
None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.
No time to exercise? Here’s a 20-minute workout.
Warm Up (5 Min) – Short jog, x 10 squats, x10 lunges
Run (100m) – x1 at 50%, 75% and 100% (walk back and repeat)
Sprint (50m) – x5 at 100% (walk back and repeat)
Stretch (5 Min)