Are You Sitting Down?

Back pain is a common complaint among adults, especially those who have to sit long hours at work. Studies show that 31 million people in the United States have some type of back pain, and it’s the second most common reason people visit the doctor. Sitting at a desk all day long with back pain can not only be uncomfortable, it may also make you less productive. But there are ways to help alleviate some back pain at work. 

The most important key is to support your lower back. It’s best to have an adjustable chair with support, but you can modify your desk space to make yourself more comfortable. You could put a pillow between your back and the chair to give your lower back extra support. You should adjust your chair so you can type with your wrists and forearms straight and level. Your elbows should be by your body in an L-shape. Keep your feet flat on the floor.  Avoid crossing your legs, which can contribute to your discomfort. Your computer screen should be at eye level about an arm’s length away, and your keyboard should be 4-6 inches in front of you. 

No matter how comfortable you are, prolonged sitting is not good for your back. It’s very important to take breaks during the day. Take a five-minute walk every hour, and spend some time stretching your back, arms, neck and legs. Be sure to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. This will help keep your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons loose, which in turn will help you feel more comfortable and more productive.

There are several other ways you can get back on track when it comes to taking care of your spine. It’s easy to damage something by lifting incorrectly. Lift by bending your knees, not your waist. Keep your back straight. Remaining active will also prevent future back pain. Continue doing the exercises and activities you enjoy, like swimming, biking or even walking. This can help in weight loss, as well, and studies show that being as little as 10 pounds overweight can lead to back problems. 

Taking care of your back and neck now can help prevent problems later. Most of the time, the only improvements that need to be made are using better body mechanics. So the next time someone is about to give you some exciting news, and they ask, “Are you sitting down?” You can reply, “Yes, correctly.”