Long days at the office desk are an inevitability for many of us as we strive for that next promotion or to finish an important project as deadline day looms. One thing which undoubtedly suffers from our daily grind more than others is something we may often overlook…our mobility.
All too often we can fall into routines and behaviors during the course of our working day that has a profoundly negative impact on our mobility.
Often times, because the changes are so gradual we don’t even notice how much it is impacting our quality of life. A tight forearm will turn into a shooting pain in your ring finger, a stiff back will completely cease up and you won’t even be able to turn our heads.
Over 80% of American’s will experience back pain in their lives and while not all of these cases can be attributed to our work place it’s not surprising that as our lives have become more sedentary, muscle stiffness and pain has increased as well.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of these behaviors and also some good habits we can adopt to have a positive impact on our mobility.
Why Good Mobility is Important
Having good mobility is actually one of the central pillars when it comes to living an injury free life. In fact, one of the reasons why knee injuries are so commonplace is due to a lack of mobility in many patients. This becomes more prevalent as we age, though it is still important to have a proactive approach when it comes to improving your mobility. In fact, mobility plays a big role in the occurrence of knee injuries and those in other major joints.
Maintaining excellent joint mobility is vital and there are so many ways in which you can maintain and improve upon your mobility, from following these steps, to performing regular stretches to improve you range of motion. Even the foods we eat can have a bearing on our mobility.
1. Poor Posture Problems
Posture is one of the most fundamental and simple things that we fail to acknowledge in our everyday life. This laid-back attitude to our body shape wreaks havoc as we grow older. It does gradual damage over a long period of time, especially to our back and necks as we slouch back in our chairs or crane our heads to check the latest social media notifications.
Correcting your posture is the first step on the road to relief from back pain.
2. Repetitive Actions Could Be Detrimental
Routine can be fantastic. It can also be a grueling battle, both mentally and physically. By repeating the same actions on a daily basis, from keystrokes to mouse clicks and everything in between, we are risking repetitive strain injuries and risking joint damage.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a major player among office workers, caused in the majority by office related repetitive tasks. Varying our daily routine even slightly can be highly beneficial.
3. Being Stationary for too Long
Being stationary does not mean that we are not working hard, especially in a corporate setting. In fact, it could well mean that we are working too hard. Meeting the deadline on that latest big project requires hours of toil in front of the screen. This however, can certainly cause harm to our mobility. Joints become stiff and tense.
This is due not only to our stationary position but also accelerated by the poor postures and repetition. As tension builds up in the muscles and joints, stiffness and knots develop. This causes a substantial decrease in our ranges of motion and overall mobility.
4. Resting on Your Elbows
Many of us, especially if we are listening intently to something (or taking a quick snooze!) will unintentionally rest our heads in the palm of our hands. Inevitably, this puts greatly increased pressure on our elbows. Over time, this can lead to noticeable pain. This is especially true in the elbow joint itself.
An even bigger risk is that the additional weight causes increased stiffness in the elbow or cartilage damage.
5. Incorrect Ergonomic Setup
A growing number of companies have it within their budget to get you the proper chair and desk setup. Many are even moving toward adjustable sit-stand desks. A lot of companies actually have an ergonomics expert in HR who can give you the assessment.
Do a little bit of research see what’s available, and if you have to buy your own chair. Your back is worth it.
6. Poor Work Lunch Diet
A major contributing factor to joint pain, injuries and decreased mobility which people fail to realize, is diet. While there are many foods you can eat to promote a healthy lifestyle and increased joint mobility, the reverse is also true. High fat, high sugar and low protein foods can all have an indirect contribution. Increased fat and cholesterol levels can lead to poor circulation which will eventually impair mobility. This is just one example.
Consider increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods which can instead help boost mobility. Too often we’re too busy to pack a lunch so we just grab something quick from that Chinese restaurant across the street. It’s becoming easier and easier to find healthy options even if you’re buying lunch.
7. Lifting Items Incorrectly
This is a huge issue in the health and safety training of most companies, and for good reason. Lifting items with the incorrect technique can lead to serious back injuries and over time, even the most minor of issues can grow into something which has a lasting negative impact.
Any back injury, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, can greatly damage our mobility.
We can all agree, it is almost impossible to rectify all of these issues immediately and continue performing every action perfectly for the rest of your career. Change though, starts with one step at a time.
If you take the time to consciously consider one of these actions per week and focus on training yourself to improve it, it may seem awkward at first and your daily tasks may take a few seconds longer but, in the long run, you will notice a significant overall boost in your range of motion.
About the Author: John C. is a physiotherapist student who also holds a BSc. in Kinesiology as well as a Master’s Degree in Biomechanics. When he’s not studying or blogging over at Brace Access you can find him at the rink doing what all good Canadian boys do, playing puck.