Ergonomics and Yoga: A Harmonious Blend for a Healthier Work Life
The rise of remote work has reshaped the way we approach our jobs. As many of us find ourselves working from home, the significance of ergonomics and yoga has taken centre stage. In this article, we’ll explore how this dynamic duo can help desk-bound workers find relief from neck and back pain and foster a healthier work-life balance.
The desk-bound dilemma
Long hours spent hunched over a computer screen, improper seating and poor posture—these are the common culprits behind the aches and pains that often accompany desk-bound work. The consequences of neglecting ergonomics can range from minor discomfort to chronic issues that affect our overall well-being.
Neck and shoulder tension: Hours of staring at a screen can lead to strained neck and shoulder muscles. The dreaded “tech neck” is a real concern as we crane our necks forward to peer at our devices.
Lower back pain: Prolonged sitting, especially with inadequate lumbar support, can result in lower back pain. This discomfort can range from mild to severe and can significantly impact our work productivity.
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI): Repetitive tasks, such as constant typing or mouse-clicking, can lead to RSIs, which affect our wrists, hands, and fingers.
Eye strain: Staring at screens for extended periods can strain our eyes, leading to symptoms like dryness, headaches and blurred vision.
Ergonomics: your desk’s best friend
Ergonomics, the science of designing workspaces to fit the needs of the worker, is an essential aspect of a comfortable and healthy workspace. By optimising the arrangement of your desk, chair and computer setup, you can significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort.
Invest in an adjustable chair and desk that allows you to customise your seating and desk height. This versatility ensures you can find the perfect ergonomic setup. Stand-up desks are perfect to vary the amount of sitting and standing each day and standing up can be a huge relief for those with sensitive backs.
Your computer monitor should be at eye level and at arm’s length away. This prevents the need to crane your neck or strain your eyes while working. A keyboard and mouse should be at a height that allows your wrists to remain in a neutral position, minimising strain on your wrists and hands. If your feet don’t rest flat on the ground when seated, consider using a footrest to maintain proper posture.
Yoga: Your Ally for Musculoskeletal Health
While ergonomics addresses the physical workspace, yoga complements it by addressing the needs of your body and mind. Yoga’s gentle stretches, mindful breathing, and relaxation techniques can provide much-needed relief from the physical and mental stresses of desk-bound work.
Neck and shoulder relief: Yoga poses like Neck Rolls, Cat-Cow Stretch, and Shoulder Shrugs can help release tension in the neck and shoulder area. These stretches promote flexibility and alleviate discomfort.
Back strengthening: Poses like Cobra Pose, Child’s Pose, and Bridge Pose help strengthen the muscles of the back and improve posture. They can also alleviate lower back pain.
Wrist and hand care: Yoga wrist stretches and rotations are essential for preventing and relieving wrist pain caused by extensive typing or mouse use.
Eye relaxation: The practice of palming, where you rub your hands together and gently place them over your closed eyes, can offer quick relief from eye strain. Additionally, focusing on distant objects during breaks can help relax your eye muscles.
Stress reduction: Yoga’s emphasis on deep breathing and mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety. Practices like meditation and guided relaxation can be particularly useful for managing workplace stress.
Creating a yoga routine for workdays
Incorporating yoga into your workday doesn’t require hours of practice. Even a few minutes of mindful movement and stretching can make a significant difference in how you feel. Here’s a simple routine to get you started:
- Begin your day with a gentle stretch. Reach your arms overhead, lengthening your body. Inhale deeply and exhale, releasing any tension.
- Throughout the day, take short breaks to stretch. Simple neck rolls, seated twists, and wrist rotations can be done right at your desk.
- Dedicate a portion of your lunch break to a brief yoga session. Focus on poses that address your specific needs, such as forward bends for back relief or wrist stretches if you’re experiencing discomfort. Search for a guided video on YouTube or similar for a short, tailored practice.
- Practise mindful breathing whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Take a few moments to close your eyes, inhale deeply, and exhale slowly. This can instantly calm your mind and reduce tension.
- Finish your workday with a couple of relaxing stretches. Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow, and Savasana (Corpse Pose) are excellent choices for unwinding.
Finding balance in your work life
Remember, small changes can lead to significant improvements in your overall well-being, helping you navigate the challenges of desk-bound work with more comfort. Contact Emily at Mount Martha Yoga for yoga on Mornington Peninsula. She initially found herself attending sessions following years of back pain due to desk work, so fully understands how uncomfortable it can be. Emily is available for online or in person corporate yoga on Mornington Peninsula or Melbourne.