7 Ways to Stay Limber at Your Desk Job
You may be one of the millions of people who spend their days at desk jobs, staring at computer screens day after day after day. Is this detrimental to your health? If the ergonomics of your desk set-up are not right and you're not taking breaks for stretching, you risk health woes such as a stiff spine or computer eye strain.
"Twenty years ago, chiropractors spent most of their time taking care of people who moved too much. Today most of the problems we see are in people who don't move enough," says chiropractor Eric Plasker, DC, founder of The Family Practice in Marietta, Ga., and author of The 100-Year Lifestyle Workout.
The Price You Pay for Sitting All Day
People were not meant to sit in a cramped position all day. "Your body needs to be in motion to be healthy," says Plasker. "Without movement, your muscles and ligaments don't get a good blood supply."
Here are some ways sitting at a desk for long hours negatively affects your health:
- Spine damage. "Sitting all day can result in a pinched nerve or a herniated disc. Damage to your spine may not affect longevity, but it will affect the quality of longevity," says Plasker.
- Computer eye strain. Almost 90 percent of people who use a computer for three or more hours a day have symptoms of computer eye strain. These symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, and neck aches.
- Heart health. "A desk job that keeps you sitting all day can lead to being overweight and underactive. That is bad for your heart and it can decrease longevity," notes Plasker. "When you are sitting, you are not burning calories and you are not getting the aerobic exercise your heart needs."
Desk Job Dos and Don'ts
Most Americans sit down to work. Poor posture, prolonged sitting, and poorly thought-out work stations are major causes of back and neck painand for time lost at work.
These tips can help:
- Practice good ergonomics. Ergonomics is the science of designing the workplace to fit the worker. Keep your computer directly in front of you, slightly below eye level. Have your hands reach the keyboard without having to bend your wrists; have good back support; and have your weight evenly distributed. "If you are craning your neck all day to see your computer, you will strain your eyes and your neck," warns Plasker.
- Maintain good posture. "Good ergonomics won't do you much good if you have bad posture, says Plasker. From behind, your back should be straight. From the side, your lower back and neck should maintain their normal curves. Twisting, slouching, or stretching and extending your back or neck can cause pain and damage.
- Follow the 50-10 rule. "That means for every 50 minutes of sitting, you need to get up and move around for 10 minutes and that doesn't mean getting up to go sit somewhere else," says Plasker. "Walking for 10 minutes is a great exercise. It gets your hips and lower back in motion and gets your heart pumping."
- Take the stairs. "Using the stairs is a good aerobic activity. This increases your aerobic activity and your range of motion," explains Plasker.
- Stretch your back. "Bend forward and touch your toes. If you can't make it down to your toes, just touch your knees. Keep your knees just slightly bent," says Plasker. You can relieve the pressure in the small of your back by putting your hands on your hips and leaning back while looking up.
- Stretch your neck. "It's best not to roll your head around in circles," advises Plasker. "Just tilt your head forward, backward, and from side to side." You can add some gentle pressure to these stretch positions by pushing your head with your hand. Stretch positions should be held for about 30 seconds.
- Loosen your upper back. You can relieve the tension in your shoulders and upper back by keeping your arms at your sides with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Now flex your shoulders backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together. You can also get relief by letting your arms hang straight down and rolling your shoulders upward and backward. Repeat these exercises about 10 times.- Chris Iliades, MD Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
You may be stuck with a desk job, but that doesnt mean you should stay stuck at your desk. For health and longevity, get up and get moving.
In Woodbridge and the entire DC metro region, most jobs seem to involve people sitting at a desk for 8 hours per day. As explained in this article, days like this can cause postural changes, muscle imbalances, and an immense amount of pain. If you have neck or back pain due to poor ergonomics at work and are looking for a chiropractor in Woodbridge, give us a call at Andolina Chiropractic & Rehab!
1455 Old Bridge Road, Suite 202
Woodbridge, VA 22192