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Shoulder pain at the office

Douleur a l'épaule en télétravail


In my practice as an ergonomist, I met several people suffering from shoulder pain at the office.

So what are the basic tips given in ergonomics?


Keyboard and Mouse

Standard Keyboard

One of the first things I look at when the person speaks to me of pain in the right shoulder at the office?

If the person is right-handed, the that would be the keyboard and mouse they use.

A standard keyboard is equipped with what is called a "numeric keypad" (the numbers to the right of the keyboard).
In addition, the CCOHS has issued a fact sheet on this topic.

standard keyboard
Standard keyboard
numeric pad to help reduce shoulder pain at the office
Numeric pad

With such a keyboard, people often have postures that restrict the right shoulder when using the mouse on the right. In more technical terms, we refer to abduction postures and postures with an externally rotated shoulder.
This may contribute to shoulder pain.

Shoulder posture that could bring pain at the office
Shoulder posture


Short Keyboard

One way to help reduce pain in the right shoulder is to use a short keyboard without a numeric keypad.

You can then keep the shoulder closer to the body and avoid difficult shoulder postures. And if necessary, a separate numeric keypad can be added, for example if you have some accounting to do now and then.

short keyboard
Short keyboard


Left mouse

Another solution that someone with pain on the right shoulder at the office can explore is to try using a second mouse on the left. By keeping the mouse to the right, you have the possibility of switching between the two sides and to take the time to tame the new mouse!

two mice


Central mouse

A central mouse, positioned in front of the keyboard, helps to bring the right shoulder (for right-handed users) closer to the body. This may help to reduce shoulder pain. Based on my experience, some people can't get used to it, while others love it. It is really a personal choice.

If you wish, you can visit the MouseTrapper and Contour Design websites for more information on these mice.

Mousetrapper


Body posture and supports on the desk

Tout d'abord, jetez un oeil sur la hauteur de votre table. Est-elle trop haute ? Si elle est de l'ordre de 29'' (ce qui est souvent le cas), il est possible qu'elle soit trop haute pour vous. Vous pourriez alors être intéressé par cet article sur la table pour le télétravail. et par cet article sur les repose-pieds.

The table height (and/or the use of a footrest) should provide good arm support, without the shoulders being raised up, or even with the arms extremely far from the body. The following image gives a good example of a table height that seems adequate.

appropriate table height to prevent shoulder pain at the office



Then, in cases where people suffer from shoulder pain, I often note that their general posture is leaning forward or to the side. So one might think that these people suffer from backaches, right? Well, at first glance, you may not notice the pressure applied on the shoulders when you rest on your arms with the weight of your body.

Shoulder pain at the office du to posture

Some advice on posture may prove to be very useful to help you reduce shoulder pain. For example, tilting the chair slightly back could provide support on the back, rather than the shoulders.

Here is another example of a person who gets support by leaning to the side. Here, you may need to look at the position of the screen (which is to the left in relation to the person). And then investigate any other elements that might explain this posture.

Shoulder pain at the office du to sideway posture


Depending on the case, we can help the client become more aware of their posture at work, by practising mindfulness!


And, of course…

This article is not intended to cover all the possibilities that may be encountered in office ergonomics, but simply to give basic information to help you prevent the incidence of pain and injury.

You have more question about shoulder pain at the office? There's nothing like a good consultation with a professional!

Pic credit : picjumbo.com

Post written by Emmanuel Benoit, Ergonomist, CIRC
 © All rights reserved

Emmanuel Benoit, Ergonome, CRIA

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