Chronic backache, neck pain and repetitive strain injury are all extremely common aliments within the workplace. Though we are able to sit and bend our spines, we were not actually designed to sit for long periods of time. However, with the majority of people working in an office, hunched over a computer from at least nine to five, Monday to Friday, it’s no wonder why so many of us suffer with such injuries.
Our spinal cords are not only responsible for movement, but are also vital in releasing essential nutrients to our bodies and blood flow. When our spines are bent they become restricted, which can cause problems such as lethargy, tiredness, irritability and even more long-term, serious aliments. More serious aliments could include, a spinal curvature (a misshapen spine, which will prevent your body from being able to manage physical shock to the body as well and makes you less able to balance), vertebral subluxations (crooked vertebra, which can result in health problems and pain), constriction of the blood vessels (effecting nutrients, blood flow and oxygen) and nerve vessels (causing a lot of pain to the body) and decreased breathing capacity.
On average we spend around 50-70% of our time sitting down; whether it’s at our desk at work, our desk at home, the train, tube, or even just our sofas when we’re watching TV. Unfortunately, this is not only causing a lot of us to suffer with aches and pains, but it is also increasing our risk of diabetes and heart disease. In fact, those who are sitting down for more than eleven hours a day have a 40% more risk of dying in the next three years.
With sitting down being an inevitable and unavoidable action in our lives, what can be done about this?
- Ensure your seat is adjustable, this way you can avoid straining your back and neck when looking at the computer. Make sure your screen is at eye level
- Ensure your wrists and arms are straight and aligned with your keyboard to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. Make sure to make use of your armrests
- Ensure that your feet are placed squarely onto the floor, or use a foot rest
- Avoid holding the phone between your neck and cheek
- Your whole body should be parallel, with a headrest and lumbar support
- Take small breaks every half an hour. Why not take a walk around the office? If concerned about time wasting, you could cut down the amount of emails you send to colleagues in the same room as you and go over there personally
- Avoid crossing your legs, as this can cause pelvic and hip problems
- Exercise your fingers to avoid RSI, you can do this by getting a stress ball
- If are able, stand up on the train and/or tube to and from work
Poor posture cannot only lead to long-term health problems, but it can also lead to problems at work. You may find that your workplace morale has dropped, you're taking more time off work; and your quality of work and efficiency is suffering.
So if you're feeling a little achy, irritated or even lethagic, ask yourself these two questions:
- Have you taken a break from your desk today yet?
- Are you currently slouching to read this?
If you haven't taken a break, have one and when you next sit down, make sure you're properly supported and not straining any of those muscles! Your life could depend on it.