While office culture may have shifted in the last few years, it hasn't changed the fact that most people are stuck working at a desk for most of their day. According to the American Heart Association, “sedentary jobs'' have increased a whopping 83% since 1950!
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who aren’t desk-bound, but chances are you spend a good chunk of time at a desk or in a seated position. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to combat the negatives that come with sitting for long hours throughout the day. Most are simple, easy, and inexpensive.
1. Firstly, MOVE as Often as Possible!
If you have read anything on this blog regarding posture, or talked to any of the doctors in our office, then you know there isn’t one “perfect” posture when it comes to pain. There are people with slumped shoulders and hanging heads who have never had a day of back or neck pain in their life, just as there are those with a military posture who have all sorts of pain. The biggest correlation in posture and its relationship to pain is the amount of novel positions we get into during that day and the amount of time we are stuck in one position.
Many of our patients have success scheduling micro-breaks into their schedule. Some have gone so far as to set a recurring reminder on their phones to let them know when they have sat for too long! The range is dependent on the individual, but an hourly break seems to be the best compromise between getting work done, and avoiding feeling too “stuck”.
I have had patients enjoy a short walk around their work area, foam rolling, a quick workout, or simply stretching in a position other than the one they have been spending time in. Movement is medicine!
2. Set up Your Workstation Comfortably and Ergonomically Efficient.
Yes I know I just mentioned that there is no “best” posture, but you do want to take care to be in the most comfortable and supported position when it comes to spending extended periods of time. The chair, desk, and orientation between the chair and desk are the most important things to keep in mind.
For your chair, ideally you have something with a backrest to support the lower and mid back. If not, experiment with rolling up a sweatshirt or towel to place behind your back. The seat should be wide enough to support sides of your hips and low to mid thigh. Desk set up should include a screen that is directly in front of you at about arm’s length, and at or below eye level to keep the neck neutral while working.
Experiment with these ideas and see which are the easiest changes you can make in your situation.
3. Utilize A Standing Desk
This is a similar idea to point number 1, but having the ability to alternate between sitting and standing is great for adding some variety during the workday. I have had patients mistakenly think that they should be standing for the entire work day. This isn’t the benefit of the standing desk, and will run you into similar problems as being stuck sitting for an entire day. Although the convertible desks are becoming more common, don’t feel like you can’t improvise by taking a break to work at a high counter or something similar.
4. Don't Forget to Give Your Eyes a Break Too
It isn’t a muscle group you think about working out too often, but there are muscles of the eyes that you use every day. They are small muscles that are responsible for moving and focusing the eye ball. Just like any other muscle in your body they can use some rest after being used for long periods of time. A tip I give to patients who spend long hours staring at a computer screen is to take a minute or two every few hours by trying to look outside and focus on something as far away as possible. Depending on your view this could be something out in your yard, down the street, or a cloud or spot on the horizon. This allows the muscles of the eyes to take a break from focusing on a screen in front of your face, and focusing differently on something further away.
5. Get Moving Again With Chiropractic
If these tips still aren’t enough to make a difference in any aches and pains you’re experiencing, you should find a chiropractor to help. It’s important to get a thorough assessment and figure out why pain may be sticking around. A good specialist should get you quick access to care, educate you on what’s going on, develop a personalized active treatment plan, and help modify any activities that may be involved in causing your pain, including your workstation.
Do this next:
1. Share this blog with anyone you know who may find it helpful
2. Text our office if you have any low back or neck pain and would like a second opinion - Call
(630) 765 0575
3. Keep an eye out next month as we will be sharing more helpful information for workstation related pain!