The Occupational Hazards Of Excessive Sitting
Sitting at a desk or in a car all day, or even just sitting on the couch for a long period of time, can wreak havoc on the back and have serious negative health effects. In fact, sitting is one of the occupational hazards many people face, especially office workers after years of sitting for prolonged periods of time at a desk, hunched over a computer. Back pain, muscle spasms, poor posture, and even poor cardiovascular health are all common side effects from sitting at a desk for hours at a time. While it’s certainly not feasible to quit your office job, there are ways you can add more movement throughout your work day to avoid “sitting disease.”
Tips For Overcoming Back Pain
The following are some important tips for those who often experience neck, back and spine issues as a result of having a desk job or any occupation that requires minimal movement and/or sitting.
- Stand Up. If you have a desk job where you spend prolonged periods of time sitting, try a standup desk. Standing will improve posture and naturally stretch the back and keep the spine aligned. Standing also promotes movement. Those who stand more, move more, which helps combat the negative health effects of being sedentary all day. It’s recommended to start off slow – perhaps try two hours per day at a standing desk to begin, making sure that the standing desk and your computer are ergonomically correct to receive the most benefit.
- Take A Break. It’s important to take frequent breaks when sitting for long periods, whether it’s at a desk, in a vehicle, or on the couch. Get up, take a walk and stretch out the muscles in your back which become stiff from sitting. This will also help re-energize your body.
- Stretch. In addition to taking frequent movement breaks when sitting, make sure to stretch the back muscles and the spine at least once every hour. Gentle stretches for the back and neck will help alleviate soreness and stiffness, lengthen the core muscles, and improve blood flow throughout the body. It’s best to begin by raising your arms over your head while standing on your toes to open the back and relax tight muscles. Also, take a few deep breathes while stretching to boost the brain.
- Support and Sit Straight. If your job requires long periods of sitting, make sure to give your back the appropriate support. You can purchase specially-designed back supports or roll up a bathroom towel and place it between the curve of the lower spine and the chair for posture adjustment. Adjust the height of the chair to ensure upright, proper posture; position the chair close to the work station. Keep the computer monitor at eye level to avoid neck strain. Rest the elbows and arms on the desk to keep the shoulders relaxed. These sitting techniques will also help you stay cognizant of posture. Hunching or stooping for long periods of time will not only result in poor posture, but also puts added strain on the spine and muscles in the back.
- Yoga. After sitting all day, the gentle stretching and muscle lengthening techniques of yoga are highly beneficial for the entire body. The mind will feel more relaxed and at ease after the deep breathing that goes along with yoga.