Workplace Posture Can Cause Aching Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Football training season is in full swing, leaving many athletes prone to injuries on the field. While football players recognize the health risks associated with typical activity on the job, those in a traditional office setting may not understand that injuries aren't just for athletes.

There are many common pains and strains that can take place at work, leaving both employers and employees at risk.

Workplace injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome often are painful reminders of the effects hours of poor posture and awkward motion can have on the body. In 2006, 357,160 cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders resulted in lost workdays. In addition, costs associated with common pain conditions and lost productivity in the United States are estimated at $61.2 billion per year.

While office injuries have become more common, many can be minimized or prevented. Practicing proper ergonomic principles at work helps ensure comfort, increase productivity and reduce health issues such as repetitive stress injuries, back, neck and shoulder strain and muscular pains.

“Employees are spending more time behind a desk and in front of a computer screen, making office aches and pains quite common, yet many are unaware of their cause,” said Kevin Butler, board-certified ergonomist and consultant for Fellowes Inc. “Daily habits such as slouching, reaching across your desk or bending your wrists up when you type can unknowingly cause stress on the body and lead to more serious medical conditions.”

Ergonomic professionals, such as Butler, recommend incorporating the following techniques at work to ensure employees stay comfortable and healthy from head to toe:

  • Eyes – Sit approximately an arm’s length away from your monitor and position the top of the monitor screen at, or slightly below, eye level. Take mini breaks every 10 to 20 minutes to rest the eyes from the glare of the monitor.
  • Shoulders – Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position as you type. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you use the keyboard and mouse. Take a moment every so often to roll your shoulders up and back to alleviate tension.
  • Hands and Wrists – Keep your wrists straight and in a neutral position. Keep the bottom of your elbows even with the keyboard height, not below. Use minimum force while striking the keys and utilize your chair arms for support.
  • Back and Legs – Adjust your chair so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit back in the seat so that your lower back is supported firmly by the chair or a support cushion. Place your feet on a footrest to relieve “pull” on the lower back. Make sure to get up and stretch your back and legs every hour.

In addition to these recommended techniques, employees should ensure they have the right office equipment incorporated into their workspace to help further release tension and stress on the body.

“Preventing workplace injury is about combining healthy ergonomic habits with the right office equipment,” said Tim Shipley, senior marketing manager at Fellowes Inc. “At Fellowes, we’re always looking for ways to maximize comfort and improve the overall office experience.”

For more information on the principles of ergonomics and assessing your workspace, visit

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