Many of us spend our days hunched over our work making repetitive movements with our hands, arms, and shoulders, absorbed in the process. You may have given little thought to how your workspace is organized, which can lead to awkward movements that put unnecessary stress on your body. Before you know it, your back and neck are stiff and sore; your shoulders and hands ache. Injury can interfere with your creative process and productivity.
Here are some tips to avoid hurting yourself and getting back to that flow. Alexandria, Virginia chiropractor Dr. Shara Posner advises using a chair that helps you maintain proper posture, preferably one with arm rests to alleviate tension from your upper back and neck. A swivel seat will ensure that you can always directly face your work without strain. Add a cushion to increase lower back support. Knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Use a footrest if necessary.
It’s important to get up and walk around at least once an hour, according to Dr. Posner. As you do that, stretch your neck in all directions: forward and backwards, side to side. Roll your shoulders forward and backwards as well.
Kathryn Taron of Refresh Yoga Center in Alexandria has some great ideas for stretching those over-worked hands and wrists. Get down on your hands and knees, or use a low countertop. Pressing down with your palms, turn your fingers toward your knees with the wrist facing out. Hold this position and breathe for 30 seconds. Bend your elbows slightly to increase the intensity. To end the stretch, slowly peel your hand away, ending with the fingertips. Repeat two more times.
Next, place the back of your hands on the floor or counter and gently apply pressure. You can open and close your fist for added mobility training. Do this exercise for one minute.
To help with chest and upper back pain, Kathryn suggests lying down with a firm pillow or cushion under your back, placed near the bottom of your rib cage. You should immediately feel your heart lift and your spine extend. Breathing should not be restricted. Raise your arms into the shape of goalpost to open the chest. Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes.
These techniques will improve the ergonomics of your workplace and relieve the physical stress of working with your hands, allowing you to spend more time on the important stuff.
Dr. Shara Posner
1414 Prince St., Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22314
Refresh Yoga Center
110 King St., 2nd Floor
Alexandria, VA 22314