Desk bound? School from home? Read this!

While it may be tempting to jump on the couch or lay in bed with the laptop when based at home to do work it is important to consider the effect this may have on your posture and body.

Some of the most common complaints we see from suboptimal desk set ups include upper back and shoulder tightness/discomfort, neck pain or tightness, headaches, lower back pain and hip tightness/discomfort.

To assist we have put together a simple guide to help you with an at home office set up aimed at reducing stress and strain on the body.

1. Setting up or choosing the right chair


It is important when setting up a home office to choose a chair that comfortably supports the natural curves of the spine – the lower back support of the chair should have a nice curve that fits in with the curve of your lumbar spine/lower back
Try to choose a chair with arm rests that are either adjustable or that allow your elbows to rest comfortably beside your body with your shoulders relaxed
Aim to have knees at a height that is lower or in line with your hip level
There should be a gap of 2-3 fingers width between the front of the chair and the back of the knees
Feet should rest comfortably on the floor – if needed you can utilise a footrest or some old sturdy books under feet so that they rest comfortably on a flat surface.

2. Setting up the monitor


Aim to set up on a flat surface that allows the keyboard and mouse to be on the same surface
Aim for the screen to be distanced about one arm’s length away from the body
The top of your screen should be at or just below eye level to reduce visual strain
Avoid positions that will cause your neck to be arched backwards or your chin to be sticking out forwards
Choose a font size that easily visible and readable.

3. Keyboard and mouse


Your keyboard should be positioned straight in front of you to avoid twisting through the body
Try and position keyboard slightly away from the edge of the desk to allow forearms to rest comfortably on the desk and parallel to the ground
Your wrists should be straight and have a 90-degree angle at your elbows.

4. Desk set up


You should aim to have a comfortable clearance below your desk to allow room for your legs
Position items used regularly in a semi-circular area within a forearms distance away from the body, items used semi-regularly should be placed in a semicircular area within an arms distance from the body
If telephones are used frequently place this within the primary work zone (forearms distance semicircular area) and used in loudspeaker mode or with a headset

Get creative with household items to improve your at homework station – this can include using old books or shoe boxes to adjust monitor level, using pillows etc for added lower back support.

A Real Pain in the Neck – 3 strategies to help ease your neck pain

Neck pain can be bloody debilitating. It affects our concentration, our mood, our movement and more. It can also be really frustrating and stressful too, especially if its more intense and not common for you.

Many different things can be the cause of your neck pain, from more benign causes like a joint sprain or muscle strain to more sinister causes like an irritation to the nerves or structures further up in the skull.

A thorough assessment by your healthcare professional (Osteopath!) can determine the cause of your neck pain and if it is neuro-musculoskeletal in origin.

If so, there are 3 things that we tell all of our patients that can be of benefit:

Keep moving!

In almost all cases, movement is THE most important factor in your recovery. Our spine and all the joints and muscles that surround it are made to move. Limiting or restricting movement can lead to your pain worsening and even make it hang around for longer than it needs to. Check out our instagram page for my favourite exercise to keep you neck healthy with movement!

Manage your stress

Stress in any form can heighten and worsen any musculoskeletal pain that we have. How often have you found that when we are stressed that all our old aches and pains tend to flare up? Always at the worst possible times! Of course it is never as easy as it sounds, but putting into place some simple strategies like taking deep breaths, taking adequate breaks or trying some mindfulness activities are easier short-term strategies that you can try to help limit stress and its influence on your pain.

Get some good sleep

Again another thing that’s easier said than done! Sleep is so important in recovery and helps the body recharge and regenerate and return to health. Making sure you are off devices at least an hour beforehand, making sure you are comfortable and if necessary, speaking to a pharmacist or to your doctor about some medications to help with the pain in the short-term throughout the day and to aid in your sleep.

Say good bye to headaches and get on with your day!

Headaches describe any pain to the head or face and are one of the most common conditions amongst Australians, with 20-25% of adults suffering from chronic tensions type headaches.
Headaches can occur at any age and seriously weigh you down and interfere with your day-to-day life.
The good news is headaches are generally not serious, and can be easily treated. However, we recommend you consult with your doctor if you are suffering from any of the following:
• New type of headache that appears suddenly and is getting worse
• Symptoms of slurred speech, confusion, weakness in your limbs and drowsiness
• Headache that comes on suddenly when coughing, sneezing, laughing or movement
• Headache following serious trauma to the head or neck

Why do I have it?

If you have recently started a new medication or been involved in a traumatic incident resulting in a bump or knock to the head, it is likely that your headache has occurred as a secondary response to this. It is important to consult with your doctor in these circumstances.
Quiet often it may seem as though your headache has come on for no apparent reason and you can’t seem to figure out why, but there are a number of things that can lead to headaches. Typically when the muscles and joints of the neck become tight and aggravated this causes inflammation and stress that may manifest as a head ache and will often feel like tension or a pulsating feeling in the front, side or base of the head.
Common reasons that cause the neck to become aggravated and cause headaches include poor posture – particularly with desk based jobs and students, stress, poor/lack of sleep and eye strain/squinting.
Other causes of headaches include dehydration, skipping meals/poor nutrition, caffeine withdrawal and hormonal imbalances.

How long until I get better?

The time it will take for your headache to get better will depend on the cause of your headache. Once we determine the cause of your headache, it is easier to estimate how long till you will get better. With appropriate management and advice you can often say goodbye to your headaches within 2-4 weeks.

How do I get better?

Increase your fluid uptake. When you first feel a headache coming on drink plenty of water! Often a headache is our body’s way of telling us that we need to drink more water.
Rest – Getting plenty of rest is beneficial for both your physical and mental health and so can contribute to reducing your headaches. Allowing time to get adequate sleep and rest may help to reduce physical symptoms of headaches as it allows our body to recover. It may also assist in reducing stress within the body that may be resulting in maintaining persistent headaches.
Heat helps to encourage nutrient flow to tissues of the body and promotes muscle recovery. Therefor applying heat to the base of the skull at the end of a busy day can have lasting benefits in the treatment of headache disorders.
If you are still finding it difficult to shake those headaches, Osteopathic treatment may be beneficial. An Osteopath may be able to use a range of techniques including soft tissue massage, joint stretching and movement to address and correct postural imbalances that may contributing to your headaches. An osteopath may also be able to provide you with advice on correct desk set up, stretches and exercises to have you back on the road to recovery and on your way to a headache free life. Typically it may take 2-4 weekly treatments to get on top of your headaches, followed by 2-3 fortnightly – monthly reviews.
If you require more specific advice relating to your headaches or aren’t having success with the above consult with your health care professional.

What can I do to stop it coming back?

There are a number of at home stretches and exercises that you can perform to reduce your likelihood of experiencing headaches we have outlined a few below for you to try.
Taking regular breaks whilst sitting at a desk for work and/or study is essential in maintaining and preventing your headaches. Taking 30 seconds to stretch out the muscles in your neck will help to keep the muscles in a healthy state and contribute to overall neck mobility.
Whilst sitting at your desk for work or study try to pull your shoulder blades back and down towards the ground to assist in achieving optimal posture.
Keeping mobility through the mid back and neck assists with keeping joints healthy, and may decrease your headaches. A simple exercise to maintain mobility in these regions is the cat and camel exercise. This is performed on all fours and involves alternating between drawing the spine to the ceiling to form a “hump” (like a camel), and drawing the spine towards the ground and looking up to the roof (like a happy cat).
As most of us spend majority of our time at our work stations, having an independent assessor come in to evaluate your desk/station set up to ensure it is in a way the best benefits your health. An optimal work-station set up will limit extension through your neck and therefore decrease strain through the muscles at the back of the neck. This can easily be achieved by altering computer screen height, desk and chair height. A workplace ergonomic assessment can be organised with assistance from a healthcare professional.

The osteopaths at Peninsula Osteopathy + Allied Health are all qualified to assess the cause of your headache, and can offer treatment and management advice! Call us on 5253 2345 or book online today!