FOOD & FITNESS / OCT. 15, 2014
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How to Avoid Back Problems from Sitting All Day

Back pain is no laughing matter. Take it from someone who has had chronic back problems for the past three years--it’s definitely not fun. I know where I went wrong though, at my desk. Sitting all day, every day working with the worst posture imaginable. You see, your body can’t handle being cemented in a rigid position for long periods of time. 

I also want to point out that there are several culprits that contribute to this tissue, some of which include: chair height, keyboard/mouse position, seating posture, and the position of your computer screen.

So don’t make my mistake (s). Follow these three simple steps below to avoid those types of back issues.

I. Take a Breather

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many folks get so carried away that they don’t allow time to step away from the desk. It’s dangerous to your health if you’re sitting in the same position for long periods. So remember to change your posture frequently.

Hopefully your employers aren’t sticklers about allowing employees to take the occasional break--especially several short ones--from the screen. Because you might be surprised to know that frequent shorter breaks are better for than a few long ones. This allows muscles an opportunity to relax, so you can prevent them from getting tense and stiff as a board.

II. Sit Up Straight!

Yes, our mothers had every right to yell at us for slouching. Sitting with a rounded back is a recipe for long-term pain. If you make a habit of doing this--even if it’s leaning forward with a straight back—it can degenerate your discs, pushing them outward. That’s how you end up with a herniated, slipped, or bulged disc. Make sure to keep your chin tucked and avoid tilting your neck forward... otherwise, you’re harming soft tissue, spine joints in the neck, and discs.

III. Adjust Your Chair...

So for starters..workstation chairs--by law-- should be stable. The typical, standard issue office chair has five legs. Seat height and backrests SHOULD be adjustable. When sitting, your thighs should be in 90 degree angles to your body.

The following are measures that will help optimize your body’s positioning.

a) Lower back support As long as your butt is firmly pressing against the back of the chair, there should be a cushion that causes a slight arch in your lower back to prevent forward slumping or slouching as you tire, minimizing back strain.

b) Elbows Sit close to your desk so that the spine is parallel to your arms. Then rest your hands on a surface, making sure that elbows are at a 90-degree angle.

c) Thighs See if your fingers slide with ease beneath your thigh at the edge of the office chair. Too tight? Using an adjustable footrest, put your feet up. If you’re freakishly tall and there’s more than a finger width between thigh and chair, raise the desk (or surface) to allow you to raise the office chair height.

d) Eye Level Ok. Now make sure your head’s facing straight ahead. Great. Close your eyes… and then slowly open them. If you’re sight is fixed on the center of the computer screen, you’re great! Otherwise (if it’s higher or lower than center), you need to raise or lower screen to reduce upper spine strain.

That’s all, folks. Your body will thank me in a few months.

Just remember…

Consistency is key.

 

Image: istock

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