Woman feeling pains at the desk

What Is The Office Syndrome And How To Prevent It?

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 The phrase “office syndrome” may sound like the name of a comedy or an excuse for calling out of work, but is a serious part of many people’s lives. For those who work in office buildings, you know that most of your day is spent sitting at a desk. While this may not sound too strenuous, this seated position can be the cause of many aches and pains in your body. 

Office syndrome is the term used to describe the pain in your back, neck, hips, and shoulders that are caused by sitting at your desk for long periods at work. Without taking the proper steps, this pain can become bad enough to make you uncomfortable all the time. It can hurt enough to make it difficult to do basic things. That is why it is so important to take steps to prevent office syndrome before it can start or get any worse.

Woman standing by her desk holding her hip

Office Syndrome Symptoms 

If you do not think that you have been affected by office syndrome, consider how often you experience any of the following:

  • Tired and sore eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck aches or tightness
  • Shoulder aches or tightness
  • Numbness in wrists or feet
  • Backaches
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Knee pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Sadness
  • Depression

While you may not think that some of these symptoms are linked to sitting in a chair all day, you may be surprised how much your body is affected by poor ergonomy and spinal support. It is also important to note that office syndrome isn’t limited to only those who work in office buildings. Those who work from home, college students, and anyone else who spend many hours seated can be subject to office syndrome.

Man feeling wrist pain while typing on a laptop

Causes

There are several ways a person can experience office syndrome, all related to the seating position and your posture as you work. While no one will have perfect posture all the time, it is important to avoid certain positions that can aggravate your spine and accelerate any chances of developing office syndrome.

Improper Deck Height

If you are working at a table that is too high or too low for you, you can be causing strain to your neck and arms. When you reach for the keyboard, you should not have to stretch or slump. 

Otherwise, you can end up with pain, as well as numbness in your arms, wrists, and fingers. You also need to watch out for this with standing desks and should stop and adjust your body if you feel numbness.

Wrong Desk Chair

While a desk chair may look nice and be expensive, it doesn’t mean it is providing you with the support you need. You should aim to have an ergonomic office chair that will both support you and help prevent poor posture. Ergonomic office chairs can also do wonders for those who already experience chronic pain and can help to alleviate the pain.

Poor Posture

While it is common knowledge that slumping in a chair is bad for your back, there are smaller things you may be doing that are also causing damage. For example, you should avoid sitting with your knees crossed because it puts weight on one leg and affects your spine. 

You should also make sure you are sitting fully back in your seat, rather than on edge, and should avoid sitting or standing with your arms folded.

Staring At A Screen For Hours

Staring at screens for long periods can lead to fatigue, trouble sleeping, staying asleep, or feeling like you can’t stay awake. It can also impact your mood and create headaches. If you can’t avoid looking at a screen, try to avoid the blue light. You can do this with newer computer settings, as well as blue light blocking glasses.

Throwing Off Your Balance

Many people do things outside of the office that might increase their chances of office syndrome. For example, many people carry a bag or briefcase to and from work. If you are carrying it on one side of your body and not balancing it out by carrying it on the other side, this practice will impact your body and spine. Whether it is a substantial weight or not, you should try to keep it as even as possible, so one side of your body isn’t negatively impacted.

You should also consider forgoing high heels as much as possible. High heels may look nice but are terrible for your body. If you must wear them, try to keep the heel under 1.5 inches to lessen the impact.

Side Sleeping

While it can be difficult to prevent moving around in your sleep, you should try to avoid sleeping on your side as much as possible. While it may be comfortable for you, this position can help cause pain in your hips and shoulders. Try sleeping on your stomach or back. If you must sleep on your side, invest in extra pillows to prop around yourself to help keep you in alignment. You can also get memory foam mattresses, toppers, and cushions to make it less damaging to your body.

Ways to Prevent Office Syndrome

Posture Correction Prevention Techniques Exemplified by two mimes

To avoid any issues with office syndrome, it is always good to be preemptive and include some preventative measures into your routine.

Improve Your Posture

Posture plays a significant part in preventing office syndrome. If you are sitting in a way that strains your muscles and does not properly support your body, you can quickly end up feeling uncomfortable. An easy way to improve your posture is to invest in an ergonomic chair. This will provide comfort and stability all day long and will help you to avoid poor posture.

Get A Better Chair

Whether you work from home or in an office building, you should invest in an ergonomic chair that will support your body while sitting. While it may mean spending more money, the long term health benefits greatly outweigh the initial costs. 

Considering the costs of pain medication, muscle creams, cushions, and doctor’s appointments, the price of an ergonomic chair is an important investment. Make sure that the chair will support your body type and has the correct height and weight specifications.

It is also important to note that other chairs can be damaging as well. Whether a couch, recliner, dining chair, or metal folding one, they can all impact your body. When you can, you should opt for something ergonomic that will help support you in the right ways. 

For chairs that you cannot select, you can look for cushions to provide additional support. At the very least, you should aim to sit with correct posture to prevent any unnecessary damage.

Besides the ergonomic chair, you could look at various posture correctors our friends at www.nobleurban.com have reviewed and especially at the adjustable-height desks or standing desks we have selected for you.

Stretch

Getting up every hour to do some simple stretches can help keep your muscles relaxed and prevent them from feeling strained. Focus on arms, wrists, legs, and neck, but also feel free to include other types of exercise. By getting the blood flowing and easing tension, you can go back to work feeling refreshed. If you choose a more minimalist office design, you can have room to do them right in the office.

Take A Break

To prevent too much eye and muscle strain, you should not be afraid to take regular breaks. This can be a single minute to sit back and close your eyes, or getting up and walking around. By taking a few minutes to yourself, you can go back to your work refreshed and with more energy.

Stay Healthy

In addition to staying healthy in the office, you need to stay healthy out of it. By living a healthy lifestyle, you decrease your risk of developing health problems and make you less prone to aches and pains from being too idle. This means eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, getting regular exercise, and making sure you are well-rested.

Mix It Up

Even in the best position, you shouldn’t sit constantly. You should aim to move around and switch your position, so you don’t become too stiff. This may mean adjusting your chair, your desk, or try a standing desk for a few hours a day. This will allow different muscles a chance to work, and others to rest. That can help relieve straining and promote a more full-body experience.

Wear Glasses

Whether you have 20/20 vision or not, when looking at a screen, everyone can benefit from wearing light blocking glasses. These glasses are blue light blocking, which not only helps prevent strain on your eyes but also helps avoid headaches and pain in your neck and shoulders. They are relatively inexpensive and can be prescription or non-prescription depending on what you need.

Conclusion

Don’t let the long day at the office impact the rest of your life. By making sure you are taking care of your body while at your desk and providing it with much-needed support. You can prevent office syndrome and the pain that comes with it. In both the long and short term, your body will thank you.

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