by Dr. Carly Catanese, DPT
As many jobs today demand long hours sitting in front of computers, the number of workers complaining of spinal pain continues to increase. I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking.” What that means is our increasingly sedentary lifestyles contributes to the frequency of pain, influences metabolic health (i.e. obesity, blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, etc.), and increases premature mortality rates.
If you find yourself sitting and working in front of a computer all day, don’t freak out! There are simple things you can do to improve your activity level, your health, and your work productivity. Research has shown that taking breaks from sitting vs prolonged sitting has health benefits. The energy required to sit is less than standing which is less than walking, and so on, so look for incremental ways to increase your activity level throughout the day.
How to add more standing and moving to your day
Take a break to get up and drink a glass of water, go to your meeting on the 3rd floor using the stairs instead of the elevator, or simply go for a lap around the office. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your boss! Reduced sitting time has been shown to increase work productivity, reduce pain, and limit the number of injuries incurred at work.
What else can you do to protect your spine? Improve your ergonomics. Many companies offer ergonomic consultations to reduce unnecessary stresses on employee bodies. Investing in a sit/stand workstation is a great way to limit the compressive forces to your spine experienced with sitting. Your goal should be to stand 25% of your work day, that sounds pretty easy, right? So if you work an 8 hour day, only 2 hours of it need to be standing; that’s doable!
When you have phone calls, why not use a headset and stand or walk around your office? Or set a timer and stand for 20 minutes at a time? There are lots of ways to easily incorporate increased activity, muscle activation, and therefore oxygen to your tissues, especially your brain.
If you find yourself still struggling with increasing your activity level and want to perform better, come visit MoveMend for a personal training assessment. Or is that spinal pain not getting better? Come in for a physical therapy evaluation and recommendations tailored to your needs
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