When our grandparents worked on farms or in factories, every day posed the risk of serious injury. We think we’ve come a long way, but have you considered the harm you could be doing to your body by sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day?
Humans weren’t designed to be sedentary, but today many of us work in situations that require hours of sitting before a computer, being stationary for at least 50% of the day. With all of this sitting, chances are that many of us aren’t maintaining good posture throughout the day, a bad habit that could lead to lower back pain, as well as other issues such as circulatory problems, gastrointestinal problems, and even depression.
Here are some ways to combat poor posture and back pain at work:
- Get up and walk around – Short walks will not only increase circulation and realign your spine but will be a nice way to break up a long work day. Studies show that taking short breaks can help improve focus, so don’t just do it for your health but for productivity, too! You can even set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stand up and move.
- Explore alternative workstations – Depending on your company’s policy, you could break away from the traditional desk-and-chair workstation and try an alternative option. A kneeling chair or a standing desk could relieve some back strain and promote better posture, but could always lead to new bad habits.
- Desk stretches – It’s easy to get caught up in work, but take some time to stretch in your seat. Rotating your neck, doing side twists and inverting your spine in some forward stretches will offer your spine, and the rest of your body, a range of motion they wouldn’t normally experience.
- Check your eyeglass prescription – Crouching, scrunching and straining could all be on account of poor vision putting stress on your neck and shoulders. Your computer screen should be between 18 to 24 inches from your face. If that is too far or near, corrective lenses or an update to your current prescription should be your next move.
- Put your feet on the floor – One great way to set your seated posture is to plant your feet on the ground. This sounds simple, but if your feet don’t reach the floor with your knees at a 90 degree angle, it will be harder to maintain proper posture at your desk. If you are unable to find a footrest to bring the floor closer to you, stack a couple binders or reams of paper to bring your knees to 90 degrees.
These tips can help prevent lower back tension that results from sitting for too long. But if you are already experiencing back pain that may be related to posture at work, consult a physician for treatment.