Problems outside of work

When we finish work, it's time to relax; cooking, playing computer games, watching television, reading etc. It's your time, but some people find that they are in pain, and this makes it difficult to relax and enjoy that time.

It can be the case that people observe good ergonomics whilst at work, but subject themselves to awkward and uncomfortable practices when they get home.

Let's take a look at some common problem areas and solutions.

Playing computer games

Playing computer games

Video games can be a great escape – they are engaging and very often players can sit for several hours whilst time disappears. However, you may be feeling aches and pains during or after play. Have a look at how you're sitting and what you are sitting on when you play:

  • Is it supportive?
  • Are you pushing your head forward?
  • Do you ever get pain or tingling in your arms, hands or fingers?
  • Do you have good posture or are you adopting a 'C' curved spine?

Sitting still in a poor posture for long periods of time puts stress on discs, muscles and tendons. If gaming takes a majority of your free time, this can cause long-term problems.

How about investing in a more complete set up?

For the computer get a better chair or desk, invest in an arm support.

For console games, you could try a new chair, or try improving your posture with a backrest or lumbar support. Stretch more, move more and take more breaks, especially if you have a sedentary job.

Working on a laptop

You've been sitting down all day; you go home and decide to just finish off that report for tomorrow. Where are you working? On your knee, coffee table or dining room table? Think for a minute. You’ve already had several hours sitting down, perhaps at a workstation that is uncomfortable. Now you are going to spend an hour or so stooped over your laptop.

Think about your posture. Do you have a natural spinal position or are you bending down to look at the screen? Are your arms supported or are your shoulders doing all the work? Are your hands in a cramped position on the keyboard?

How much better would you feel if you could do this work in comfort? Invest in a small desk or workstation and chair. Put your laptop on monitor blocks or laptop stand, plug in an external keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to view the monitor at the correct height, level with your eyes.

Working on a laptop

Working on an unsuitable desk

Working on an unsuitable desk

You may have a dedicated desk for work at home but does it allow you to complete your task without discomfort? Many standard office desks do not provide sufficient height adjustment.

It is also very common for people to work on dining, kitchen or coffee tables which don’t always allow you to maintain the best posture for writing or computing.

An adjustable desk or small workstation could be the answer.

Back pain when cooking or ironing

Both these tasks can involve standing for long periods. Using a chair that encourages you to rotate your pelvis forward will encourage a healthy lumbar spine and make it easier and more natural to keep this 'S' curve.

Try a stand up chair - they not only encourage good posture but also take some of the weight off your legs.

Back pain when ironing

Continued pain from work

Continued pain from work

If when you get home and the pain from work doesn’t ease, life can be very difficult. But there are steps you can take to help.

  • Involve your employer - they can only help you if they know you are experiencing pain.
  • Seek advice or treatment from a physiotherapist or osteopath. Ask your therapist about using a tens machine for natural pain reduction.
  • Some of us sit still all day and then go home and do the same. Do some gentle exercise or go for a 20 minute walk after work.