Calling all desk jockeys! A panel of experts convened by the American College of Sports Medicine reviewed a wide range of studies to help answer questions about stretching to ease neck and shoulder pain.
"Any task that encourages you to sit in one position for long hours can wreak havoc on posture. Even enjoyable hours whiled away with an e‑reader or a tablet may have that effect — and worse," according to a piece published by Harvard Health Publications.
"A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Microsoft showed that holding a tablet too low in your lap can force the muscles and bones in the neck into an unnatural posture, which may strain or aggravate other muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs."
"Over time, poor posture chips away at the range of motion in your joints. The neck problems described in the study above — and repetitive stress injuries from tasks such as typing — may occur, too. Fortunately, good ergonomics and regular posture checks can help combat these problems."
Office furniture retailers can advertise their ergonomically focused offerings to business decision makers. AudienceSCAN found 7.2% of adults intend to purchase, lease, acquire or approve office furniture or workstations for their companies during the next 12 months.
Ergonomics for computers, phones, and tablets
If you use a laptop or desktop computer:
Choose a chair with good lumbar support, or place a pillow against the small of your back.
Position the top of your monitor so it's just below eye level.
Sit up straight with your head level, not bent forward.
Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body.
Keep hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel to the floor.
Sell business decision makers on the benefits of ergonomic equipment used in tandem with stretching techniques. Do this in emailed ads or newsletter ads, because AudienceSCAN reports 26.5% of Office Furniture/Workstation Decision Makers took action after receiving these.
If you use a handheld phone:
Avoid propping the phone between your head and shoulder.
Consider investing in a comfortable, hands-free headset. Depending on your needs, you can choose one designed for use with cordless phones, landlines, or computers.
Businesses should consider using actors to portray helpful posture-related stretches using specific pieces of office equipment in TV spots. According to AudienceSCAN research, 59.4% of Workstation Decision Makers took action after seeing commercials in the past year.
If you use an e‑reader or tablet:
Buy a case that allows you to prop the device at a comfortable viewing angle, one that doesn't require you to bend your neck much.
Change things up every few minutes. "Usually we tell people they should change their position every 15 minutes," says Dr. Jack Dennerlein, principal investigator of the tablet study and an adjunct professor or ergonomics and safety at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Just change your hands, shift your weight. Stand up or sit down."