05 Dec 2017

Perfect Posture – How to Protect Your Back in the Office

Perfect Posture – How to Protect Your Back in the Office

The 9-5; some of us love it, some of us loathe it, many of us are indifferent…..but one thing we can all agree on is that at some point or another it brings an element of pain with it. From the lower back, neck, shoulder and even wrists that are vulnerable to stiffness, pain and lack of mobility, the 9-5 has a lot to answer for.

Those hours we spend hunched over our desks in front of our PC’s leave a lot to be desired when it comes to our health, and when the pressure is increased? It usually feels as if your shoulders and back couldn’t possibly be more tense, leaving a legacy of pain and unease. Further to this, if we do not address these issues when they begin to occur, we can only expect them to get worse as we continue in an office job for years to come!

If your current desk arrangement is leaving you looking and feeling a bit like Quasimodo, take a look at our guide below to help arrange the ultimate workspace set up.

Keep Your Head up
Your head and neck should be aligned above your shoulders – not straining forward to see the screen.

Keep Your Mouse Close
If your mouse isn’t right next to your keyboard, you could overreach for it. This movement can result in pain and injury to your shoulder, arm or wrist.

Pick the Right Chair
Here’s a depressing fact; we spend more than a 3rd if our existence in a chair! With this in mind, it’s vital to sit in one that doesn’t destroy your spine. An ergonomic chair that has an adjustable height, a solid cushion and supports your lower back will go a long way to ensuring the health of your spine.

Breathe Deeply
It’s not often that we think about the WAY that we breathe but being mindful of our breathing technique can have an enormous impact on our physical health. When sitting in your office chair, trying breathing from your belly, pulling your navel back towards your spine. This technique engages the core muscles, supporting the upper body.

It’s all about distance
Sit with your torso so that it is at arm’s length from the monitor. The monitor itself should be 2-3 inches above eye level. If it isn’t, you are likely to hunch your shoulders and back to come down to the level of the screen. Raising your screen to your eye level will encourage you to hold your head high, aligning your neck and spine.

Flat Feet
Your feet should be planted flat on the floor, a shoulder width apart – this relieves any tensions placed on your knees and ankles. For many of us, the go-to position is to sit with our legs crossed, but this makes it difficult to maintain a straight spine and square shoulders. Crossing your legs also puts you at risk of over stretching the pelvic muscles – increasing the risk of developing varicose veins as the blood flow is interrupted.

Take a Break
It’s important to take regular breaks, at least once an hour to relieve the pressure that is placed on your spinal disks from long periods of sitting. Be sure to include some gentle stretches and shoulder rolls to keep you limber and boost your circulation. Roll your shoulders back and down and square them over your hips.

Right Angles
Keeping your knees in at a 90-degree position, directly over your ankles means that your spine will be supported and comfortably upright.

Stop Squinting
This is more common in those who use laptops, because you are more inclined to lean forward to see or reach the screen. If this is the case, it would be advisable to attach a separate monitor and keyboard.

Hold the Phone
A habit of busy office workers all over the world – this is one habit you should stop immediately. Cradling the handset between your shoulder and your ear while you continue to type away is not a good move when it comes to your neck. It is also potentially very dangerous when done for lengthy calls; there have been a number of cases where the carotid artery has been ruptured from the prolonged distortion.

So now that you have some top tips on how to maintain the perfect posture, how do you rid the niggling pain that you are left with after hunching at your desk?

  • Yoga is excellent for strengthening and lengthening muscles that have been tensed during your working week.
  • Acupuncture is proven to be effective at relieving chronic pain, especially when it is stress related. The needles serve to release our natural painkillers –endorphins. It is essential to see a doctor to rule out any serious conditions. Once your initial session is completed, occasional maintenance sessions are required.
  • Swimming is a low impact exercise, relieving pressure from the joints, but it also strengthens the core muscles that are needed for effective support of the spine.
  • Booking in for a massage will certainly help with a build-up of tensions and stress in the muscles; your therapist will be able to focus on any localised pain as well as working out tightness in the muscles and realigning the body.

Speaking to an experienced osteopath is also advised. They will be able to suggest any further exercises or lifestyle changes that you can make to ensure you are effectively upholding the health of your spine and neck, keeping pain at bay and maintaining a high quality of life!

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