Ergonomic Checklist

Your ergonomic checklist to keep you from making your pain *worse* on the job!

Many folks don't understand that often chronic pain comes from 'bad positioning'. This 'bad positioning' can be work positions during the day, sleeping positions or any pattern you hold for a long period of any given day. Since our muscles were made to move, they are most comfortable when we move often. When we are in positions at a desk for 2, 6, 8, or 12 hours a DAY, our bodies get cranky and begin to 'complain'. The muscles get tight from holding, and the fibers in our muscles will often stay contracted, even after you leave that position. Your body is actually being efficient...but our nerves perceive pressure and pain, from the muscles staying tight around them.

Here are some things to think about, from head to toe, if you are in front of your computer for long stretches of time:

1) Make sure your monitor is at eye level, in front of you. Turning your head all day to look at a monitor, even slightly off center, can cause the muscles on that side of your neck to get tight. Typically, clients will feel the tension creep up from their shoulders, possibly creating headaches or jaw issues. You want to be sure your monitor position isn't too low, or too high. Cheap, easy fix for a 'too low' monitor, put a couple reams of paper under it for a stable stand, instead of ordering a monitor stand.

2) Keep your shoulders square, head upright. If you begin to lean forward, allowing a forward head position- pulling your shoulders in, the first place you will generally feel it is in your upper back and neck. As you begin to fold in on yourself, the muscles between your shoulder blades, up into your neck will tend to get stiff and painful.

3) Bring your keyboard and mouse immediately in front of you, so that you only have to lift your arms at the elbows. The minute you lift your upper arm away from your body (forward OR to the side), you engage muscles in your upper back and neck. See our page on upper back pain patterns for more ideas on what can make this discomfort worse.

4) Don't bend at the waist, to reach your workstation. If you are tilting forward all day, it can cause excess tension in your low back, upper legs, and hips. If you already have low back pain, this page may have some information to help you.

5) Extend your legs, slightly, in front of you. A short stool can help you to extend your legs, but be careful not to OVER-extend your knees. If you pull your legs under your chair, you are shortening your hamstrings a lot throughout the day. This may make you more prone to upper leg, hip or low back tension and pain.

6) Keep your feet flat on the floor, or a stool. Crossing your legs creates a strained pattern in the upper leg and low back, particularly the side with the leg on top. If you have aching, annoying low back pain, which creeps down into your glute, you'll want to see this page on lower back and hip pain for ideas on what else you may be doing every day to exacerbate the pattern.

7) Last, but not least...GET UP AND MOVE AROUND...**OFTEN**! Our muscles were made to move, so moving and stretching can help to get circulation to those stuck muscles and alleviate discomfort or aching.

If you are in Northern Colorado, our clinic specializes in massage for individuals with chronic pain patterns. If you have been suffering with a pain in the neck, back or shoulder for too long, we may be able to help. Please contact us for a free phone consultation.

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"I can't believe I've been making my back pain worse for years, without knowing it! Thank you for sharing the information in the BodyPain Matrix(TM) Program! I now can completely manage my back pain with my stretches and I've stopped sitting in 'bad' ways.I am so glad I finally have an answer after suffering with my low back pain for over 5 years." -Sheryl B.

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