As you read this, you are probably staring at your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Are you sitting? Are your shoulders hunched? Are you slouching perhaps? Do you find yourself spending most of your day in these positions?
Most of us do and at some point have experienced aches, stiffness, or tightness in our necks or low back.
So many of today’s jobs involve endless hours of sitting. Whether you are a computer programmer, receptionist, student, writer, court reporter, or truck driver, none of us can escape it. The list of sedentary jobs is prominent and ever expanding. Unfortunately, more and more research is showing increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and shortened life expectancy.
So what do we do? If we can’t escape it, how can we prevent overuse injuries without quitting our day job?
If you can stand while you work, then change positions. Standing changes your posture, can take pressure out of your neck and low back while getting increased circulation into your legs and feet. There are desks that adjust allowing you to sit or stand while you work. Check with an ergonomic specialist.
Whether sitting or standing, breathing brings awareness to one’s posture. It also increases the oxygen levels to your brain and body, potentially increasing your focus and productivity and, not to mention, providing a quick meditation.
3. Move Your Feet
Move them up and down, around in circles. Even draw the alphabet with your feet. Circulation is the main goal. Our feet are the furthest thing from our heart so they receive the least amount of blood flow whether we are sitting or standing. Movement helps return blood back to our heart.
4. Chair Height
Make sure your chair isn’t too high or too low. Rather than letting your feet dangle, or tucking on leg under the other, your feet should be in contact with the ground or a footstool. Also, your knees should be bent at about a 70-degree angle while your hips should be slightly higher than your knees. All of this will help decrease the strain placed on your back.
5. Back Support
Make sure your chair supports your back. If it does not, use a small pillow or rolled towel to fill the gap between the back of the chair and your low back. Whether it takes a single pillow or multiple towels, play around with it. As long as it is comfortable and provides support, you will notice the difference in your alignment, breathing capacity, and center of balance all while decreasing the strain placed on your neck and back.
6. Take Breaks
Grab a drink of water. Go to the bathroom. Take lunch. These days most of us not only work for hours on end, but some don’t even take a lunch break. You are not a robot. You not only need food and water to refuel, but you need a mental break too. The work will always be there. If you don’t finish it now, you know you will finish it later.
How we feel physically and mentally affects our productivity and performance longevity. Keep these suggestions in mind next time you have to sit through a long meeting, conference call, or have an impending project deadline. It’s the little things that matter most, they just might help rejuvenate your mind and body to get the job done.
Erin Carr, DPT, is an integrative physical therapist at The Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine. She works with individuals of all ages and variety of conditions using a multi-faceted treatment approach. She spends time educating her patients on their injury and healing process creating a team approach with the goal of diminishing pain and restoring optimal function. You can also visit Erin’s website HERE.
*Photo by Victor1558