A large number of individuals spend five days a week and eight hours a day sitting behind a desk. No matter what occupation you work in, spending this much time sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen can have a number of negative effects on your health. One of the biggest of these can be pain in your lower back. This pain causes discomfort and can negatively affect your attitude and quality of work.
There are a number of things, including incorrect posture, a bad desk chair, a desk that’s too high, and more, that can contribute to lower back pain, and many of these things often go unnoticed. By following just a few simple tips, you can help to relieve discomfort and improve many aspects of your workday.
Correcting Your Posture
Sitting improperly is one of the biggest causes of lower back pain. Too often, people slouch in their chairs, forcing their spine to do all of the work to support the body. This can cause the spinal ligaments to overstretch and the vertebrae in the back and the discs between them to compress and break down. These effects can cause a number of back issues and a significant amount of pain.
One of the best ways to help reduce postural issues is to make a conscious effort to sit up straight. This means that your ears, shoulders, and hips should all be in a straight line with one another. This will keep your spine straight and in correct alignment. Your muscles will also be engaged and help eliminate unnecessary stress on the spine.
An important factor in keeping your body upright is properly adjusting the height of your monitor or desk. If your screen is too low or too high, you will strain your neck and cause unnecessary discomfort. When you sit naturally and look directly forward, your gaze should rest comfortably on your work. Adjust the height of your monitor to cater to this specific height.
You should sit as close as comfortable to your desk. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when resting on your desk and your elbows should be in line with your sides, not reaching forward. They should also be lifted just slightly to raise up the shoulders, take pressure off the upper back, and reduce the tendency to slouch forward.
Also, keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground will help to establish a balanced base for your body. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle and placed directly over your ankles as this provides the best support for your spine. Keeping these few tips in mind can make sitting at your desk significantly more comfortable.
Take Regular Breaks to Stretch
Even with perfect posture, sitting constantly for eight to 10 hours straight will take a toll on the body. It is important to take regular breaks to stretch and move around. Studies have shown that this will help to keep your muscles and joints loose and reduce back pain caused by long periods of sitting.
Every 15 to 30 minutes, you should get up and out of your chair to move around. This can be as simple as doing some shoulder rolls, stretching, going to the bathroom, or even taking a lap around the office or the house. If it is hard to remember to get up, set a timer that will go off at specific times to remind yourself to move around for a minute or two.
It may seem like getting up a few times each hour will interrupt your work and reduce your productivity. However, these regular breaks will actually do the opposite. Regular stretching will help to increase blood flow and decrease overall discomfort, which can improve your attitude, quality of work, and increase your work efficiency and overall output.
Pick the Right Chair
Emphasizing correct positioning and taking regular breaks are important, but if you are in a poorly-designed or improperly-sized desk chair, you may still be causing significant damage to your spine. Finding an ergonomic office chair is a great way to help increase back support and make it easier to sit properly. More importantly, however, is correctly positioning your chair and your work space to cater to your specific requirements.
One of the most important factors for a chair is an adjustable seat height. This will allow you to keep your feet flat on the ground and your knees at a 90-degree angle. When sitting, there should be a gap of about a finger width between your thigh and the chair at the front edge.
Another important factor to consider when picking out a desk chair is the lumbar support it offers. The lumbar spine has a naturally inward curve. With long periods of sitting, slouching often occurs, which causes this curve to flatten out. A good chair will help to support this natural curve and prevent slouching. Lumbar support is often adjustable in both angle and height.
Desk jobs are common and it is hard to avoid having to sit for long periods of time on a regular basis. Although this is the case, there are a number of things that you can do, including improving sitting mechanics, selecting a good chair, and taking regular breaks, which can help reduce lower back pain caused from sitting.