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As a Paramedic I am well aware of the manual handling procedures to help protect my back as I do my job. What I wasn’t prepared for is how much I need to protect my back when I work at a desk.
I’m one of those people that can become completely engrossed in what I am doing – especially when it comes to blogging. I spend on average 40 – 50 hours a week working on my blog, and the majority of that time is spent looking at my computer. That’s equivalent to a full time job – which a lot of women out there work under the same conditions.
It doesn’t help either when we start to form some pretty bad habits… spending 3 – 4 hours working at your computer without having moved from your desk, sitting in dodgy office chairs and staring down at our laptops. Which apparently is all quite common for those who work from home or work in an office.
Understandably there may be some situations you can’t change but knowing how to look after you back can save you some serious pain in the future. I’m certainly not perfect in this area but there are the things I try to do to help reduce any issues with my back.
My Chiropractor told me that it’s not always how we sit that is a problem, it’s that we sit like that for such long periods of time. He encouraged me to get up and move every twenty minutes. This can sometimes be difficult to do so I just keep an eye on the clock and try to move every half an hour, on the half hour. So I’d move at 10am, 10:30am, 11am… It doesn’t always work because I’m usually engrossed in what I’m doing but I have found it helps.
Another part of moving often is to increase our core strength through exercise. I always notice a big difference if I haven’t done any exercise in a few days (okay, maybe a week or so) and how my back feels.
Adjust Your Screen
Is your screen so dull you have to lean it to see what’s written on it? Perhaps you’re working with intricate details like in Photoshop or graphic design and you lean forward to see rather than zoom in. It’s such a natural response when we are having difficulty seeing something, we try to get closer and for computer screens that means leaning in.
This can cause unnecessary strain on the neck. Do you know how much your head weighs?? An adult head can weigh between 4 and 5 kg. That’s a lot of weight for your little neck to take – no wonder we end up with sore necks all the time.
Create a Comfortable Workplace
How much time do you spend in your workplace? Chances are it’s a fair chunk. You need to make it comfortable. If that means adding a cushion behind your back for extra support then go ahead! Having a comfortable and well adjusted chair is important. As nice as some of the chairs look, they don’t do so well for your back.
Standing desks are also becoming quite popular now, while I don’t have to room to include one in my office, I take a break sometimes and move my laptop to a high bench and work from there. Fit balls are also used often as chair replacements as they are designed to help engage our core muscles and strengthen our backs.
When I am sitting at my desk and working on my laptop, I would naturally have to look down slightly to see the screen, which can cause a lot of pain after a while. I use an old textbook to chock up my laptop and raise it higher so I don’t have to look down as much.
Take Care of Yourself
You all know how passionate I am about this! Taking care of yourself and your back is incredibly important. You may need to have check up appointments with a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor just to make sure things are in order. It’s always better to be proactive about your health rather than being reactive.
And then there’s always a massage… book yourself in for a relaxing treat and have a back massage. If you can’t afford to go to a spa for it then grab some delightfully smelling massage oils and make hubby watch a ‘how to’ video on YouTube before giving you a massage. (Good luck with that!!)
Sleep on the Right Mattress
I had no idea how important this was until recently. I mean a mattress is just a mattress right? Apparently not. I always thought there were three kinds of mattresses… Hard, medium and soft. It turns out it’s a bit more complicated than that. Sleepmaker have even developed an online mattress tool to be able to help you select the perfect mattress for you.
Our body repairs and recovers while we are sleeping which is why having the right mattress is so important. We all know what it’s like to have a horrible nights sleep so it’s best to take the time to make sure you have the perfect mattress for you.
So be kind to yourself, treat your back well and remember to pester hubby for that massage.