By design, humans weren’t made to sit for eight hours; but in reality, a great amount of the population is seated for the majority of their workday. As a clinician, you’ve seen and treated the detriments this can cause: chronic neck or back pain, poor posture, and general tightness. Some office workers will reach to opioids to control their symptoms, when in reality, seeking out the help of a professional can help eliminate their pain instead of masking it.
That’s where you come in! Your workplace pain education can help your patients naturally relieve their symptoms and save them from becoming an opioid abuse statistic. We suggest outlining appropriate workstation setup and prescribing exercises to reinforce strength, flexibility and a strong posture.
How to set up an ergonomic workstation
Of course sitting all day can have negative effects on the musculoskeletal system, but how your patients are sitting is one of the most critical factors. Educate them on the proper way to set up their workstation to set themselves up for good habits:
- Head directly over relaxed shoulders, practicing a proper posture (chest open, neck and back elongated)
- Computer screen at eye level to facilitate posture maintenance
- Elbows at a 90 degree angle, relaxed at sides with wrists in a neutral position
- Keyboard flat at elbow level
- Chair at an appropriate height to promote neutral knee, elbow and foot positioning
If your patients are confident in their desk space, the next step in work-related pain relief is to get them moving, both at and away from their desks.
Exercises to perform during the workday
Desk-jockeys are often stuck in their cubicle or office space for the majority of the day. It’s important to stress the importance of regular movement for those leading a sedentary lifestyle. Getting up and walking around the office is a great way to stretch the muscles and get the blood pumping, but if your patient has a big deadline to meet, he or she may not have time to leave his or her desk. Luckily, the TheraBand CLX is an easy-to-use, portable tool that can be tucked away in any desk drawer or bag. Suggest the following stretches and exercises that can be performed anytime, anywhere:
WARNING: Any resistance product can break or slip from its anchoring point during use if not properly secured. Proper stance and grip are required to safely use resistance bands and avoid loss of balance or injury in the event of breakage or slippage. Wearing eye protection is strongly recommended.
Neck lateral flexion/upper trap stretch
Upper body Brugger
Lower body exercises
Additional suggestions for pain relief longevity
After your patients become comfortable with their new set up and the exercise regimen, you can start suggesting other products and protocol to keep them actively progressing in their pain relief efforts. You might suggest that they try a TheraBand Exercise Ball instead of a chair to activate and challenge their core and posture muscles. Also, giving a TheraBand Hand Exerciser a squeeze (or 50) can be as much therapeutic for wrist and hand pain as it is effective for occupying fidgety employees. As a bonus, send each person home with a sample or full-sized tube of Biofreeze to keep at their desk so they can feel the lasting effects of menthol soothe their aches and pains whenever they’re in need.
Always remember that, while creating value in your practice and profession can be shown in the elaborate treatments and services you provide, offering your patients simple, practical solutions they can utilize in their everyday life is one of the most worthwhile, impactful jobs you can do.