October 16th marks the annual celebration of World Spine Day as part of The Bone and Joint Decade’s Action Week.  This year’s theme is “Your Back at Work”, which is fitting, considering the increasing socioeconomic burden of non-specific chronic low back pain.

Photo by Bethany Legg; www.unsplash.com

Photo by Bethany Legg; www.unsplash.com

Globally, back and neck disorders are on the rise, with jobs becoming more desk bound and computer based. At Obair, we perform display screen evaluations (DSE) and ergonomic assessments with the focus on improving sitting posture and the ergonomic layout of workstations. Having a workstation that matches your body’s characteristics can aid in preventing musculoskeletal discomfort and pain and in turn, improve work performance.

Photo by Benjamin Child; www.unsplash.com

Photo by Benjamin Child; www.unsplash.com

Obair offers advice on appropriate workstation ergonomics and self-management strategies at work. There are some basic factors to be considered when choosing an appropriate chair. First, you should be able to sit back comfortably with your back touching the backrest. The chair should be height adjustable to ensure that your forearms are parallel to the desk when typing. If your feet do not rest on the ground, a footrest should be considered. Armrests can be useful, but should not hinder you from moving as close to the desk as needed.

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono; www.unsplash.com

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono; www.unsplash.com

Attention should be paid to the height of your desktop or laptop screen monitor. Prolonged neck flexion places a lot of tension on the neck and back muscles and can lead to muscle spasms and discomfort. Make use of an adjustable screen monitor or laptop stand to ensure working at eye level. In addition, being able to touch type (i.e. type without looking at the keyboard) will also ensure that you keep your neck in a neutral position.

Although having a workstation fit to suit your needs is beneficial, having regular rest and stretch breaks cannot be underestimated. Our bodies are made to move and so, it is advised to stand up at least every hour to grab a drink of water or walk around the office. A good way of achieving this is to have routines in place, such as only filling your cup half way or setting your phone to vibrate.

In this way, we are being mindful of the way that we work and use our bodies. As part of #WorldSpineDay, you are invited to share a #spineselfie of #YourBackAtWork, demonstrating a healthy spine habit at work.