For many of us, being at work means sitting at a desk for long stretches of time staring at a screen. It’s unavoidable, but it can also wreak havoc on your spinal health. Sitting for extended periods can tighten the muscles surrounding your spine and lead to reduced flexibility and mobility, the result of which is often back pain.
But when it’s simply part of your working day, what can be done about it? There are several things you can do to check your posture and reduce the damage your desk job is causing to your spinal health.
The way you sit at your desk can play a huge role in maintaining your spinal health, so make a conscious effort to check your posture throughout the day.
Sit up straight and roll your shoulders back so they’re aligned with your ears. Keep your feet flat on the ground so that your lower back isn’t supporting all your weight on its own.
There are several factors which can contribute to a poor sitting posture at work, including the position of your screen, mouse and keyboard, as well as your seat. Position your monitor so that it sits at eye level. This allows you to use your computer without hunching forward, which over time can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain.
It’s a legal requirement for office chairs to be stable. The usual model for a standard office chair is one supported by five wheeled legs in a star-shape. The seat itself and the backrest should also both be adjustable. If so, you should adjust the height of your chair so that you can sit comfortably at eye level with your screen. You should also adjust the backrest so you can comfortably sit up straight with some support.
Your thighs should be at a right angle to your spine, or sloping slightly downwards so that your knees are below your hips. Your chair should also allow you to place both feet flat on the ground comfortably. While it can be easy to shift and slump over the course of a long day, try to maintain this position as much as possible.
No matter how good your desk posture is, sitting for long periods of time is not good for your spinal health. Make the effort to take regular breaks from sitting at your desk, ideally every thirty minutes. You can do this with something as simple as a short walk to the bathroom or water dispenser – as long as it gets you moving.
You should also take the time to do some light stretches whilst you sit at your desk just to release some tension. Slowly rotate your neck, push out your chest to stretch your spine or push back your shoulders to work your muscles a little.
On your lunch break, try to get out and do a bit of walking, even if its just to the shop for something to eat. This helps to loosen up your spine and stop your muscles from seizing up due to inactivity.
Sometimes an office job does require physical strain, such as lifting and handling. This can be anything from moving filing cabinets to taking the bins out. It’s vital you complete these tasks safely, particularly if you are lifting a heavy item after spending several hours sat in the same position. Remember to lift by putting the pressure on your knees rather than your spine, and always ask a colleague for assistance if you feel the task requires more than one set of hands.
Poor posture can lead to all sorts of spinal health concerns, from back pain and hip pain to shoulder and neck pain and even headaches. If you are suffering from discomfort during your working day, seeking the help of an experienced chiropractor can help you to tackle the problem effectively.
At Skelian Chiropractic Clinic we pride ourselves on treating the root cause of a problem rather than simply tackling the immediate symptoms. This may include soft tissue therapies and mobilisation techniques, as well as a comprehensive rehabilitation programme combined with advice on changing your working environment.