Are you sitting comfortably?
Whether we eat healthily and take regular exercise or not, we know they’re important. What we’re less aware of is the significant role structural health plays in our general maintenance and wellbeing. When your body – especially your back – is in balance, you’re much less likely to suffer from day-to-day niggles like back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue which can build over time into serious conditions.
A major contributor to this damage is sitting for long periods of time at a desk. It’s something that increasingly few of us can escape these days, but by being conscious of ways to minimise any stress on the body, we can help to avoid causing damage.
Try practicing these techniques when you’re in the office:
- Keep your head back.As we focus on our work, there is a natural tendency to protrude the head and neck forward. Ideally, your ears should be in line with your shoulders so, computer monitors and reading materials should be placed directly in front of you at eye level. Ask for a laptop stand if you don’t already have one!
- Take a break: Move around frequently –every 20 minutes is recommended: stand up and walk around, keeping your head up, shoulders back, chest out and eyes looking straight ahead (it’s a good excuse to talk to colleagues rather than just emailing them!).
- Sit “mindfully”: elongate your spine and consciously align your shoulders with your hips to evenly distribute body weight over the whole back. Sit all the way back in a firm straight-back chair and to place a small cushion in the small of your back for lumbar support. Tuck in your chin and don’t curve your back forward.
- The right chair helps enormously with this. Your chair height and proximity to your desk should allow for your upper arms to be between vertical and 20° forward and for your feet to be flat on the floor (sometimes small foot rests are required). Modern office chairs allow to adjust the back, the seat height, the arm rests so you can sit the right distance from your screen, at the right angle and with your feet flat on the floor. Many models incorporate a built-in adjustable lumbar support too.
Ultimately, become aware of your body’s position. Keep your back straight, your shoulders squared, chin up, chest out, stomach in. Train your abdominal muscles to support your back and so improve your posture. Teach your body what it feels like: stand with your back against a wall, with the back of your head, your shoulders, and your backside just touching it. It will feel awkward at first, but the more your practice, the more natural it will become.
But… start out with a strong foundation and make sure your back is balanced in the first place! We look forward to seeing you soon.