By: Rhea Tomlinson (BMR-PT, BA)
Certified in Acupuncture & Dry Needling
RYT 200 hour
We have all heard it before; sitting is the new smoking, posture and positions at our desk are important, but where do we start?
Read this ergonomic blog for our Zen Physiotherapist’s recommendations and simple tips to improve your posture!
Many injuries result from prolonged sitting. Neck, back, shoulder, hip and wrist pain are far too common in the office. These nagging injuries can become severely painful and decrease productivity at the office and interrupt activities outside of work. At Zen Physiotherapy, the majority of the injuries we treat are not actually acute traumas but chronic overuse injuries from repetitive activities such as desk work. Alarmingly, we are now seeing more children and teenagers than ever with postural related problems from texting, video gaming and repetitive poor posture at school!
We recommend the following to consider while working at your office to decrease your chance of injury.
1. The best posture is your next posture. The jury is out in the current literature on “perfect posture” and whether it is as important as we think. At Zen Physiotherapy we do believe that micro-traumas over time will occur to the body with repetitive poor posture. One thing that is proven is that MOVEMENT and frequent position changing is an effective way to stay injury free. Your best posture is your next posture! Sit/stand desks are a great option to alternate positions throughout the day. There are several options of sit/stand desks that can be suitable for multiple spaces and budgets. Remember to position change from standing still as well. We can slouch in standing as well so taking short breaks to walk and move around or even sit sometimes is important for a pain free body.
2. Take movement breaks to walk & stretch!
As we mentioned above, our bodies are not made to be in one static position for long. We recommend moving the body every 15-20 min, even if that is a short stretch in your chair. Consider moving the neck, spine, shoulders, elbows and wrists through their ranges of motions multiple times a day or choose a few stretches to work through. Get up and going for short walks as often as possible using any excuse to get up and go to the printer or take a call in standing. There is new research that suggests our brain functions better when standing and moving due to increased blood flow and oxygenation. People also report higher energy and productivity if they take movement breaks.
3. Set up your desk space appropriately. Avoid a forward head posture by positioning your monitor at eye level. You can even stack the monitor or laptop on books to lift the height. Adjust the height of your chair so that your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Avoid reaching with the arms for your mouse/keyboard, keeping them close to the body, ideally elbows bend to 90 degrees and remain close to your sides. If you have to sit for most of the day, invest in a good, comfortable and adjustable chair with a lumbar support. If you are not sure about your desk set up and how to adjust it, you may need to visit a physiotherapist or have an individualized ergonomic assessment of your work space.
4. Stay active outside of work. If you are sitting for 8 hours a day it is even more important to get in physical activity and movement outside of work. Current physical activity recommendations are 60-90min of physical activity 5-6 days per week, but you can start small and build your way up to this gradually. Try walking on your lunch break, biking to work, or joining a fitness class that interests you. The stronger your hips, core and shoulders are, the easier it is to sit and maintain a good posture throughout your day. Improving general strength also decreases the likelihood of desk related overuse injuries.General strength also decreases the likelihood of desk related overuse injuries.
At the first sign of discomfort get assessed! Your physiotherapist can recommend individualized exercises and tips to improve your ergonomic habits throughout your work day. Earlier intervention leads to better outcomes and quicker recovery.
Give these tips a try and get started on a more comfortable work space to improve your overall health & wellness. If you have any questions, please reach out to our amazing Zen team on our contacts page!