If you are like most Canadians who have desk jobs, you are sitting in front of a computer for the majority of the day.  Did you know that staying in one position for long periods of time can actually cause injury to your neck and low back?

Perhaps you’ve noticed pain, reduced flexibility, mobility or stamina.  Prolonged sitting can cause compression in the muscles, joints, ligaments and spinal discs, which can increase your chances of injury. Constant compression of the muscles, ligaments and joints can cause sprain and strain while steady compression on the spinal discs hinders their nutrition and contributes to premature degeneration.

Here are four tips to stay pain free if you have to sit at work:

1) Active Sitting… Think about your posture. Sitting incorrectly can put strain on your lower back and neck.  Sitting in a slouched position not only decreases blood flow to the muscles but also to the organs that that are being compressed, such as the heart and lungs.

To practice active sitting – Pull your stomach in, bring your shoulders back and keep your chin tucked.  Think about lifting yourself up towards the ceiling.  Active sitting will help to increase your core stability and decrease your chances of injury.

2) Take short, frequent breaks. Take short breaks from sitting every 30 minutes.  Get up, do a stretch or take a short walk around the office.  A good stretch to do is bring your hands over your head and reach for the sky. Or stretch your body in the opposite direction that you are sitting in.  Hold each stretch for 30 seconds or more. If you find that you get lost in your work, put on a timer to remind you to take breaks.  Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – this also makes you get up out of your chair more often.

3) Pick a good office chair. It is very important to be able to easily vary your sitting position through the day.  A good chair should; adjust to suit your size, have a backrest with proper curvature that supports the lower back, and have adjustment armrests that support your arms at the proper angle.

4) Sit in your chair properly. When sitting, make sure you are sitting at the very back of your chair. Use a lumbar support to keep a neutral spine.  Your knees should be at 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor or with slight incline.  Your elbows should be supported on the armrests at 90 degrees as well.  Keep your monitor and mouse at the right distance so that you are not prone to slouch forward as the day passes on.  The arm that uses the mouse should be in line with the body and not reaching forward.

If you have any questions or would like to speak personally about your health problems, please call the office and speak with Dr. Joy

Yours in Health,

Dr. Randi Joy