Common Joint Issues for Office Workers
How often have you heard yourself complaining about neck, back, wrist, and hip stiffness while working at a desk job? Most office jobs will have you sitting for more than an hour at a time, which can start to take a toll on your body. Because of the inactivity, your muscles and tendons become stiff, and those who sit incorrectly during that time can experience even worse symptoms.
Fortunately, we can teach you the best ways to reduce those aches, from learning the best upper back stretches to some of the poor habits you should kick.
What Does Sitting All Day Do To Your Body?
You’ve probably already heard the saying, “sitting is the new smoking,” often enough. People say this for a very good reason! Living a sedentary lifestyle can cause several health concerns, including heart disease and diabetes.
When you’re sitting, you’re using less energy than you would when standing or moving. You’re also putting excess stress on your hip joints when you sit for long periods. It causes muscle imbalances and weakness in the glutes, which are responsible for supporting your legs.
Being less active can also increase your risk of obesity, which is harmful to your health.
Joint Discomfort in the Workplace
If you work on a computer all day, you may notice some joints start to ache. This is due to the impact of sitting, typing, and looking at the screen for extended periods. It puts prolonged pressure on those joints, eventually leading to an injury.
Below are some of the common joints that can become impacted by working a sedentary job:
It’s not uncommon for office workers to experience stiff wrists from typing throughout the day. Not only can this prevent you from performing your responsibilities comfortably, but it can also affect your productivity. Wrist discomfort generally happens when you have an incorrect posture while typing.
Sitting for prolonged periods can put a lot of pressure on your hips, leading to tightness. This happens because your hip flexors shorten after having your knees bent for so long. Sometimes, even more discomfort can result from poor posture while sitting.
You should also note that sitting for over 40 hours a week for six months or longer can decrease the strength in your hips.
Office jobs require a lot of typing, which can cause inflammation in the sheath that surrounds the tendon in your fingers. This condition is known as trigger finger, and it often occurs from repeated movement or forceful use of your fingers. The affected finger may momentarily become stuck in place and pop when you try to straighten it.
The shoulder is a complex joint that allows you to do many types of movements with your arms. As you can imagine, that can also be why people can experience discomfort or injuries in that area. If you’re working at an office job, you may use your shoulders a lot to use a computer mouse.
You can also end up feeling shoulder tightness if your keyboard is too far away or if you lean inward to see your computer screen.
Lower backaches are generally related to the tightness you get in your hips from sitting for prolonged periods. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your butt, spine, and back. Also, if you sit for long periods, there will be a higher chance of you slouching to feel comfortable.
We all know slouching can force your spine out of alignment and put more strain on the muscles and ligaments in your lower back. As a result, you’ll experience discomfort in that area.
“Computer elbow” can often occur when you have poor posture at work, but you can also feel this discomfort from sustained repetitive movements. Slouching or leaning over on your desk may cause you to put too much pressure on your elbow, which can cause the ulnar nerve to get pinched in an uncomfortable position.
Similarly, repetitive movements from typing on a keyboard or moving a mouse can eventually hurt the tendons and lead to injuries like tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
Common Stress Injuries from Overuse
It’s not uncommon for office workers to experience strains and inflammation due to the nature of their jobs. Many individuals who sit at desks all day can get some of these stress injuries:
- Carpal tunnel
- Ganglion cyst
- Raynaud’s disease
Why Should Office Workers Stretch More?
Stretching is not just for your active friends! Professionals are always stressing the importance of stretching for those who work in an office setting. In fact, it’s just as important for those with a sedentary lifestyle.
Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t skip a good stretch session if you work at an office job:
Reduced Risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries that can affect the musculoskeletal system and the body’s movement. Most of these are strains and sprains. An MSD can occur due to repetition, stress, and other workplace and individual factors.
Once you experience those risk factors, you’ll feel fatigued, which can then outrun the body’s recovery system and cause musculoskeletal imbalance. If the fatigue and imbalance persist, then an MSD occurs. Your workplace design also plays a huge role in developing an MSD.
Reduced Risk of Cumulative Trauma Disorders
A cumulative trauma disorder, or CTD, is a term used for damage and discomfort caused by repetitive movement and overuse. You may feel stiffness, tinging, or tenderness in the affected area if you have a CTD. Some examples include rotator cuff injuries or tendonitis.
Improved Productivity at Work
It’s not easy being productive at work when you have discomfort in your joints. Most people experience these conditions in an office setting and ignore them until they interfere with their ability to do their job.
If you notice that tight muscles in your shoulders, hips, or back decrease your work productivity, you might want to consider moving and stretching more. It’ll surely help you get your work done easily and prevent you from missing days because of an injury.
Work can already be stressful enough and adding body aches from sitting all day won’t help. Stretching can not only relieve the pressure from being seated for prolonged periods but it’s also been proven to help reduce stress. It does this by lengthening muscles to relieve tension, which can help you relax and feel better. Besides, you’ll have one less thing to worry about now that the aches are gone!
As we’ve mentioned previously, improper posture is one of the main causes of work-related injuries. After sitting for so long, you’ll be tempted to slouch, or you may cross one leg over the other. These positions can negatively impact your posture, resulting in more discomfort.
Stretching is also proven to help correct your posture, which means less tightness while you’re at work.
Your blood flow increases to the sore muscles you get from sitting all day when you stretch. That’s an excellent way to relieve tiredness. By keeping the oxygen flowing to your muscles, you can delay the onset of muscle fatigue, allowing your body to keep going before exhaustion sets in.
Other Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Physical inactivity can cause many problems, but some of these issues might surprise you. Next time you think about sitting through your workday without taking a break to walk or stretch, consider some of these health risks you may be putting yourself through:
According to a study in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, physical inactivity can be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. The three types are:
- Colon cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Lung cancer
Every two-hour increase in sitting time can link to an 8% increased risk of colon cancer and a 10% increased risk of endometrial cancer. High blood sugar and insulin can be a pathway to colon cancer, while obesity can be a strong cause for endometrial cancer.
It makes sense that sitting too much can lead to heart disease since you don’t move as much when you’re sedentary. Your blood flow slows down when you spend too much time sitting, allowing fatty acids to build up in your blood vessels. This is what leads to heart disease.
Anxiety or Depression
Yes, prolonged sitting can even affect your brain! Being active reduces the effects of the stress hormone, known as cortisol, by triggering the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors. Once that supply decreases, your cortisol levels increase. That can lead to more stress, anxiety, and depression.
Sitting for too long can lead to insulin resistance, which is known to cause diabetes. Exercise helps your muscles use glucose from the bloodstream and help decrease insulin resistance. It’s also great for lowering your blood sugar levels.
It goes without saying – inactivity can lead to obesity, especially if you don’t follow a healthy diet. Prolonged sitting can weaken your bones and muscles, making it more difficult for you to be active. You might experience some discomfort as your weakened muscles cannot properly support your body systems.
Obesity occurs because your body’s ability to process fats decreases when you live a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, your body’s lipoprotein lipase production can drop by around 90% when you sit! As you can imagine, that makes it difficult for your body to use fat, which means it gets stored and leads to weight gain.
High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure
Those who sit for long periods will have lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, which is the “good” cholesterol. It removes the low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or bad cholesterol, from your arteries and carries it back to the liver. When your HDL levels are low, it can’t remove the LCL from your body, and your chances of blockages and high cholesterol increase.
Those who are less active and physically fit have up to a 50% greater chance of getting hypertension, or high blood pressure. This condition is also linked with diabetes and obesity. Reducing how often you sit can greatly improve your blood pressure and reduce your cardiovascular risk along with other health concerns.
Helpful Tips for Reducing Joint Stiffness at Work
Fortunately, you can take the necessary steps to reduce achy joints and any injuries that may occur with it. The first thing to realize is that muscle stiffness doesn’t come with the job. You have to take care of your body so you can perform better at work and feel better about yourself.
Below are some helpful tips you can start doing to keep your muscles nice and healthy while working a sedentary job:
- Create an ergonomically correct workstation
- Get up and walk every hour
- Wear a splint or brace
- Use good posture throughout the day
- Try using a standing desk
The Difference Practitioner-Assisted Stretching Can Make
You may think you can find the perfect stretch to do at home or in the office, but the truth is that it’s not possible to effectively stretch some muscles on your own. In fact, an “easy stretch” may not give you the results you need, or it could even make your discomfort worse. This is why we offer practitioner-assisted stretching to help you control a stretch’s intensity and cadence for the best results.
Practitioner-assisted stretching can make such a huge difference when it comes to tightness and body aches. We can stabilize your body and work with your reflexes, leading to a beneficial stretch. Of course, we always encourage you to communicate your comfort level! We have a system in place for that:
- A 3 indicates that they have begun feeling the stretch.
- A 5 indicates that they are in mid-stretch.
- A 7 indicates that they don’t feel like they can be stretched any farther.
Our patented strapping system and proprietary tables allow us to stabilize and isolate muscles, giving you a whole new experience that will greatly benefit you. Simply put, it can help you
- Relieve stiffness
- Relieve soreness
- Move more efficiently
- Feel lighter and younger
- Increase and maintain range of motion
- Enhance physical skills
Are You Interested in Learning More About the Best Upper Back Stretches for Office Workers?
Don’t let stiffness and aches prevent you from performing a less than stellar job at your place of work. If you’re having troubles with your joints, the team at Stretch Zone can perform some of the best practitioner assisted-stretching for those tight areas, helping you feel like a completely new person. Schedule your first session at your nearest location today so you can start having a more flexible tomorrow.