Deadly Desk Job: Health Risks You & Your Co-workers Should Know About

Working behind a desk offers a fairly low risk job (unless you are a bit clumsy, and in that case everything is risky), but there are a few “under the radar” risks that pose a threat to your long-term health. If gone unchecked, your everyday desk-job habits have the potential to affect long-term eye, back, wrist and overall body health. OCH/Advantage physical therapist, Jennifer Witt offers a few tips to keep you at your peak while on the job and behind your desk.  

  •  Watch that monitor. Try to keep it at a distance of 24-inches (or arms length away) to reduce eye strain. Also, make sure your monitor is at eye level. If it isn’t, stick a ream of paper underneath to boost it to the proper height.
  •  It’s all in the wrists. Keep your keyboard at the edge of your desk to avoid hurting your wrists. Excessive pressure over an extended period of time may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you find your wrists resting on your desk, ask your manager for a gel pad to set them on.
  • Catch the mouse. Don’t let your computer mouse drift far away. Reduce your arm strain by keeping it within easy reach. The same goes for any frequently used item: the closer the better. Smaller movements mean less strain on your arms. 


  • Keep it at 90 degrees. Employees who sit with their hips, knees and ankles in a 90 degree angle have better posture and less back pain. For all you math nerds out there: slouching is not “acute.”  
  • You’ve got to move it. If you work at an office, chances are the only time you move is when the clock strikes noon. Try to break yourself away from your diligent work habits and move around at least once an hour. After all, what are water coolers for?
  • Don’t be macho. Save the heavy packages for the heavy lifters. If something looks too big to handle, call for assistance. It’s not worth the strain. If a box or package is manageable, try breaking it up: using your back and legs for support to lift the box to a chair. Then, lift the box to the table.
  • Sorry Elle Woods, no “bend and snap.” If you happen to drop something on the floor, kick back your leg in ‘golfer stance’ to maintain the “S” shape in your back. This will help prevent pulling something, or future back pain.

Jennifer works at OCH/Advantage Therapy in Springfield, Missouri and at OCH Christian County Clinic in Nixa. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Missouri State University. She has experience in inpatient, outpatient, home health and pediatric  settings. Her primary interest in physical therapy is pediatrics, specifically the 0-3 age group covering a variety of diagnoses. To contact Jennifer, call OCH/Advantage Therapy at (417) 777-4749. For more information about OCH/Advantage Therapy visit


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