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  • Writer's picturetinawatson

Are You Sitting Comfortably? How to help prevent back ache when you have to sit for long periods.

Most of us are sitting for longer periods of time than ever before because of our dependence on computers and other electronic devices. Our health is suffering as a result.

Research suggests that sitting for most of your day even increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

My job involves me being on my feet for much of the day but the people who come to see me present with a multitude of aches and pains which could be helped by addressing how they are sitting at work.

It is not going to be possible to swap your office job for one that lets you walk around or stay active all day but there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

Sitting causes the pelvis to rotate backward and puts pressure on the lumbar discs. This position forces the head forward and cause the shoulders to curve to compensate for the weight transfer - which in turn causes pain.

Prolonged, static loading of tissues over time puts undue pressure on the low back and stresses the surrounding muscles and joints - more pain!

Correct Sitting Position?

Correct sitting position:

  • Sit up with your shoulders back and your back straight.

  • Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips with your buttocks touching the back of your chair.

  • Bend your knees at a right angle.

  • Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (Use a foot rest or stool if necessary.)

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor (unless using a stool or foot rest) and do not cross your legs.

  • Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes, get up and move around.

  • Adjust your chair height and work station so that you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up toward you.

  • Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.

  • When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don't twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.

  • When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the chair. Stand up by straightening your legs and avoid bending forward at your waist.

Incorporate Office Yoga!

Do some office yoga:

Although you may initially feel a little foolish, try doing a couple of back bends every so often at your desk - explain to work mates why you are doing it and how they could benefit from them and soon it will seem a pretty normal thing to be doing:

An effective, careful bend will lengthen your spine, increase blood flow, stretch your chest and counteract slumped shoulders.

  1. Raise your hands up towards the ceiling with your palms facing one another.

  2. Slowly look up at your hands and try to bring your gaze to the wall behind you while bending slightly from your upper back.

  3. Hold for 5-8 full deep breaths before slowly releasing.

Also throw in some forward folds to stretch out tight hamstrings and release your hips. The blood that rushes to your head will give your cells a fresh boost of oxygen:

  1. Start by sitting near the edge of your chair.

  2. Place your feet together, inhale and lengthen your spine.

  3. Exhale and hinge from your hips, round your back slowly and gently let your chest fall to your knees.

  4. Allow your hands to touch the floor for support and breath deeply for 5-8 breaths.

Please ensure that you are sitting in a stable chair when you attempt these and if for any reason you have a medical condition that means you are prone to feeling dizzy or faint then take care with forward folds.

Don't forget regular exercise is important if you have a desk job, oh and, of course, regular massage!!

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