If you sit at a desk all day, chances are you don’t feel like you’re in danger of sustaining an injury at any given moment. But the truth is, millions of people each year are diagnosed with joint injuries whose symptoms are exacerbated by their work at an office job. Many injuries are related to underlying health conditions like pregnancy, menopause, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, or simply genetics.
Working in an office is a necessity for many people, but in many cases it’s not a particularly healthy environment.
While you may not be able to avoid the need to be at your desk to do your job on a daily basis, there are steps you can take to create a healthier workspace that will help to curb your risk for common hand, wrist and elbow injuries.
8 Tips for Minimizing Hand, Wrist, Elbow & Joint Injury Symptoms at the Office
There are a variety of relatively easy steps you can take to protect your joints while you’re at work. Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’d like to minimize your risk of a hand, wrist or elbow injury
1. Take Regular Breaks
This may sound like familiar advice since taking regular breaks throughout the workday is advised for many reasons. However, many people don’t realize that these breaks are actually good for more than just your mental health. They also give your joints and muscles a chance to relax and recover from the repetitive motions involved in most desk jobs, like typing and mouse movement.
Struggling to remember to take breaks? Set an alarm reminder or download one of the many apps that can help you remember to pause your work and regroup once in a while.
2. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is another thing that employees are often encouraged to focus on throughout the day. While staying hydrated is good for your body and overall health, it’s actually beneficial for your joints as well. Good hydration can help to maintain and improve joint health.
3. Keep Your Arms Bent at 90 Degrees When Typing
Whether you have a standing desk or a sitting desk, it’s important to make sure that your arms are positioned appropriately. In order to minimize hand, wrist, and elbow injuries, it’s recommended that your arms and wrists be extended and in a neutral position while using the keyboard for typing. Your computer screen should be at eye-level to promote ideal posture as well.
4. Maintain Good Posture
Speaking of posture – good posture is key to healthy joints, especially when you’re performing repetitive movements day in and day out as many people do when working in an office environment. Checking in with your body on a regular basis and familiarizing yourself with proper posture and joint alignment can go a long way when it comes to minimizing your risk for joint and ligament pain caused by everyday office work.
5. Use Ergonomic Equipment
When it comes to maintaining healthy posture, ergonomic equipment can be well worth the investment. Ergonomic keyboards and mice may look a bit funny, but they are actually designed to keep your hands, wrists and elbows in a more natural position throughout the day. They may take some getting used to, but if you’re hoping to prevent joint issues caused by office work they’re a worthwhile purchase.
6. Stretch At Your Desk
Taking a few minutes each day to stretch can do wonders for your joints, muscles and ligaments. Even light stretching at your desk can have a positive impact. Make it a point to stop and stretch periodically throughout the day. You can even work some strengthening exercises into your routine, such as squeezing a stress ball or creating a tight fist then opening up your hand to stretch your fingers out as far as they will go.
7. Change Up Where You’re Working
If you have the option, changing up where you work is a great way to keep your arms, wrists, and elbows healthy. Whether you work from home, work remotely from a coffee shop, or set up at the library on occasion, changing up your workspace can do wonders for your mental health and creativity, and can benefit you physically as well. Adjusting the position you’re working in – but ensuring that you’re still comfortable and set up with good posture in mind – can help to reduce the repetitive stress placed on your joints, which in turn can help to minimize injuries.
8. Exercise Regularly Outside the Office
Maintaining a regular exercise routine outside of the office can actually benefit your muscles and joints while you’re sitting at your desk. Being in good physical shape can put you at an advantage when it comes to combating common ailments like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that are often diagnosed in those who are chained to their desks on a daily basis. Staying focused on being active and prioritizing keeping your body in good shape can be challenging, but the myriad of benefits that come with it make it well worth it.
Keep Your Hands, Wrists & Elbows Healthy At Work
Most of us spend nearly half of our waking hours working to make a living. If your office or workspace is set up in a way that’s causing consistent stress to your joints, it should come as no surprise that you could end up with a chronic hand, wrist or elbow injury!
Keeping these tips in mind can help you to minimize your risk for common workplace injuries.
Curious about what exactly causes musculoskeletal disorders caused by office work? Find out how something as seemingly innocent as computer work can actually be causing damage to your body that can be prevented.
Looking for other ways to prevent workplace joint ailments? Check out our tips for preventing Carpal Tunnel, one of the most common injuries sustained among office workers and others who perform repetitive movements on a consistent basis.
Suffering from a hand, elbow or wrist ailment you sustained at work? As a local, experienced hand specialist, Dr. Garcia provides expert care for a variety of hand, wrist and elbow conditions, including those that occurred in the workplace. He’s the trusted hand and wrist doctor for patients in Saratoga, Lake George, Queensbury, and throughout the Adirondack region.