The workplace is a hazardous environment!
Unfortunately, it’s not just at a construction site where you could be injured. Common office environments are just as dangerous to your body as hard labor jobs. Almost 30% of people who work in an office environment complain of back and neck pain. The good news is that a lot of overuse injuries caused by work can be avoided if you follow some simple rules while you are there.
The 90 Degree Rule:
The most common injury associated with work is low back pain. Sitting places 4 times your body weight of compression on your lumbar spine. I don’t care how skinny you are. That is A LOT of pressure. That pressure over time will break down the tissue and lead to pain.
When it comes to sitting at a desk you want to follow the 90 degree rule for your posture. Your elbows, hips, and knees should all be at a 90 degree bend while you are sitting. If you are vertically challenged, and your feet don’t touch the ground in that position, place a stool under your feet.
If you are using a standing desk then obviously just stand up straight with your elbows bent to 90 degrees.
How Long Should I Sit?
You shouldn’t sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time. I also recommend that if you are using a standing desk that you don’t stand for longer than 30 minutes either. Prolonged positions just aren’t good for your spine. I tell people to set a timer on their computer for 30 minutes. Every time it goes off you need to take a 1 minute break from the position you are in. If you are using an adjustable desk, you can switch from standing to sitting every 30 minutes.
What Exercises Can I Do?
If you are getting back pain while sitting at work, it’s possible you need some increased strength and flexibility in your core and hips. This will help to decrease the compressive forces placed on your spine while you are sitting.
For flexibility, a simple stretch you can do is a hip flexor stretch. When you sit the hip flexors are shortened. This prolonged shortening makes them tight. The problem for your spine is that the hip flexor muscle attaches at the front side of your spine. When a muscle is overly tight it will tug on its attachments. This tug of war increases the sheer force through your spine, and therefore, increases pain. Try this hip flexor stretch to improve the flexibility in the muscle tissue. Hold for 2 sets of 30 seconds and perform twice daily.
I hope these tips help you stay healthy and productive at work. If you get a raise I want a 10% fee please. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for reading.