If you are like most of us, then you probably spend most of the week and thus most of your life sitting in a chair in your office. The catch is that our bodies are not designed to sit at a desk for seven or eight hours at a time. Sitting for long periods of time can cause neck pain, headaches, elbow pain, wrist pain, lower back pain and eye strain. The long-term health consequences are even more serious and include cardiovascular disease.
So what can you do?
1. Adjust your office chair
Your chair is the place you will be sitting most of your day. It has the important job of supporting your spine so it is important that you have a decent one. The main feature that your chair needs to have is that it is adjustable.
- When you sit in your chair sit with your hips as far back in the chair as possible
- Ensure your thighs are parallel with the floor
- You should have a small gap between the chair and the back of your knees (less than 5 fingers)
- Your feet should be flat on the ground or on a footrest if required.
2. Set up your desk
Do a quick audit of your desk to ensure that it is set up so you don’t slouch when you work.
- Ensure the top of your screen is at approximate eye level. It’s good to remember you don’t need to spend a fortune to make these changes. Books are great for propping up computer monitors.
- Ensure the keyboard sits within 10-20cm of the start of the desk.
- Make sure you have space around your desk so you’re not cramped and the space is well lit.
3. Take regular breaks
Ensure that you take regular breaks where you walk away from the computer. Try to take a couple of minutes break every thirty minutes. Incorporate walking into your work day by having walking catch-ups or meetings if possible. Set an alarm to remind you to get up and stretch regularly. Try to walk every lunch time.
4. Talk to your Osteopath
Your Osteopath can help you with any musculoskeletal strain that you have. They can identify tight muscles that may be restricting joints from moving freely causing stiffness, and can help to gently release the tightness. They are able to suggest exercises to minimise strain and will talk to you about taking regular breaks from sitting. They will also give you advice on an optimal workplace set up to help minimise fatigue and injury of muscles.
Tanja McKenzie & Jackson Turnley