A client of mine has recently experienced exacerbation of her back pain and, as we were working through her Pilates, I asked if anything had changed in her daily life. She explained how her company have adopted hot-desking, she no longer had her own workstation so could be working at a different chair and desk everyday. I asked her if she checked her positioning before she started work and the answer was "No, I don't even think about it". And herein lies the problem and the solution.
It is estimated that 37% of companies in the City of London routinely share desks and although this is effective for the office layout, it might not always be for the individuals involved.
In a recent survey of office workers who regularly hot-desk only a third said they made adjustments when they find they're in a different chair/desk and this lack of initial assessment and adjustment has been linked to an increase in the incidence of back pain.
So what should you do when you sit down to work? And how much is the company's responsibility?
Some companies now routinely employ ergonomic consultants and if so this should be your first port of call, ask the experts. And sufficiently adjustable chairs, foot rests and screen heights should be standard in the work place. There are a few simple steps you can also take yourself:
1.When you sit down, check your chair and adjust it if you need to so you can place your feet on the floor with your hips slightly higher than your knees and your bottom back in the chair for lumbar support.Chairs with arm supports are good as they remind us to regularly do just that, rest your arms. Change the position of your feet to find you can sit steady, moving them wider if needed.
2.Now look at your screen, it should be arms-length away and the top level of text level with your eyes. You cna adjust the level of the screen using books or look at the perspex lecterns that are available to riase the screen or your laptop to the optimal height.
3. Check you can use your mouse without cricking your neck and use wrist support if needed, look at a mousemat with integral wrist support.
4. The most obvious one that we all forget: Take regular breaks, move around. 40minute sessions then at least a few shoulder shrugs, slouch and grow tall, circle your ankles etc. Download "Pilates in sitting" from www.ipilates.co.uk onto your computer or ipod and let me lead you through some releasing, energising movements to lighten your day.