Chronic pain – check your environment first

Wrists, necks, lower or upper backs, our computer ridden jobs are filling us with unwanted new pesty guests. As a chronic pain sufferer for 15 years, and now pain-free at last!, I can give you some good tips on how to fix this.

First place to look is your every day habits. I do not believe in making yourself sit up straight, but you can create an environment where sitting up straight is natural.

Using your computer

I would have had to change careers ions ago if I hadn’t paid attention to this.

If you use a laptop, buy a screen. If your boss doesn’t want to get you a screen, say you’ll ask HR or H&S or the NHS. Your company can get into big trouble for ignoring your health needs. Not having a screen is probably the culprit for your neck and upper back pain. Level the top edge of the screen with your eyes. Use books under the screen if you have to.

If you find yourself leaning forwards to see the screen, bring the screen closer. Sounds obvious, eh? So why aren’t you doing it yet 🙂

Your forearms must rest on the table with ease. Change the height of your chair accordingly.

Now for the 90 degrees rule: your hip has to be in 90 degrees to your legs, your upper legs have to rest on the chair and be at 90 degrees to toe lower legs, your lower legs have to be at 90 degrees to your feet. Change the height of your chair until they are. If your feet aren’t touching the ground now, you should need to get a foot rest (or get your boss to get you one), it’s not that expensive and you’re worth it!

Now your chair. Two things to notice. Some seats are curved inwards, forcing your hip to be at an awkward position that hurts your lower back. You need a chair which seat is curved outwards or straight. This is vital! I was dislocating my L4 joint once a month until I discovered this! 

The second thing to notice is the chair’s back. Some modern chairs have a spring against your back so that they are always pushing you forwards. How stupid is that! Dump it!

An important addition to your life is a small of the back pillow. You wrap it around the back of your chair at hip height. It will do a world of difference keeping you using your body well at work.

Now for your mouse. My mouse has been responsible for shoulder pain, shoulder unlevelling, upper back pain, wrist pain, arm and finger pain, it’s a nasty bugger really. I’ve ditched mine and now just use my laptop’s, which seats directly in front of me and close to my body. In the past, I have used a vertical mouse which wonderful for my arm and fingers. It is important to check where you place it. Never ever ever beyond the keyboard! Keep it close to your body.

I do all these things and often get compliments about how elegant I look when working just cos I seat right. So no, it doesn’t look weird at all. More inportabtly, I manage to work for hours on end pain free!

Ah, go get water or tea or go to the loo once every 1.5 hours at least.

Driving

Now that’s tough. I do not drive a lot so my tips here may be inconplete. Happy to hear yours in the comments. I have a semi-automatic car and that helps. An automatic one would have been better. Most important top is keep your hands levelled with each other and close to your body, possible close to the lower part of the wheel. Never one hand on the gear or one on the window. Go for simmetry. 

Many car seats are nasty too, like bad office chairs. Get your own seat to put on it. Try it at the shop. Make sure it has support for the small of the back and let’s your hip get as far as it needs to go. May be useful to buy your car because of the seats, if you ask me.

Shoes

We all like pretty shoes, but I like myself lots more! Never ever wear completely flat shoes! Shoes must always be 1 cm higher in the back than the front if you must wear high-heals, make sure the heal is wide so that it is supportive. And please keep it to a minimum.

Bags and weight

Large one sided bags are a big no-no. Back packs that seat above your hip are great. But we end up packing them a lot. Lately I’ve been using a tiny side bag that I place in my front.

If I go to the supermarket, I take my backpack or my bike or one of those old lady’s wheeler. If I don’t, I put all the weight in one bag and I hug it in front of me. Never been looked at twice.

Sitting about

Great rest position is sitting cross legged. I never sit normal anymore. Nobody minds, trust me. Crouching is also a great rest position. Yoga teachers will tell you it allows putting your back/hip in neutral.

Getting up from a chair

One awesome trick this one! Before you get up, sit on the tip of the chair, put your bump back and your back straight, now get up diagonally to your bump. Your hip stays safe when you start walking. If your chair is too low, you can do this after getting up, just lean against any other surface. Trust me, it’s an awesome trick!

Getting up from bed

Inportant stuff. Any physio will tell you! Lie sideways, your your upper arm to push against the lower to get you up. That sit-up sort of way to get up is really bad for your lower back.
All this sounds like a lot. But once you incorporate it into your habits, it’s really easy to do. And you’ll feel so much better!

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One thought on “Chronic pain – check your environment first

  1. Pingback: Chronic pain – where to go for help | opinionatedana

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