Those of us who use PCs for work are well-accustomed to spending lengthy periods sitting behind a desk. It’s an occupational hazard which, according to recent research, could prove to be very damaging over time. Sadly those little aches and pains that stem from poor posture can progress to become chronic health complaints. Guest blogger John Macnamara is a *CHEK trained professional who specialises in corrective exercise and performance training. Who better to offer some advice for long-term slouchers?
Sitting for hours on end is all too common in the modern workplace. And for many people it’s the same at home – you sit to eat dinner, watch TV, use your laptop etc. It might therefore shock you to learn that health & fitness specialists have dubbed sitting as being the new smoking. This is due to the negative health implications linked with such a sedentary lifestyle. And the implications we are talking about reach far beyond having a numb bum! From my own experience the majority of my clients who sit all day will demonstrate forward head posture, rounded shoulders, a flat back and limited, if any, core activation.
So what does that mean for the client?
Forward head posture puts a tremendous strain on your back. With every inch your head moves forward, it doubles in weight!
Rounded shoulders severely compromise your ability to twist. This means your lower back generally takes the hit as the lumbar spine (which is not designed to rotate) tries to assist the thoracic spine in rotation.
With a ‘flat back’ posture, the pelvis is posteriorly rotated. This puts more stress on your lower back, making your hamstrings tight and hyper extending your knees. Such a postural deficiency in day to day life can lead to injury and degeneration of the spine.
Your deep trunk muscles become desensitised when they are switched off all day as you sit at your desk. When combined with a less than optimal pelvic tilt, this leads to poor, if any, activation of the deep trunk musculature. The risk of injury is high whenever you lift, carry, bend, push, pull and twist with limited spinal stabilisation.
What can you do about it?
Ok – so that is the bad news and yes, you have to sit at work to earn a living. Here are just a few suggestions for you to try at your workstation:-
- Set an alarm on your phone or PC to beep every 10 minutes. When you hear it – sit up straight! Over time, you can relearn the habit.
- Adjust the height of your seat until your elbows are at 90 degrees
- For keyboard use, you can avoid chronic exposure to pressure on the underside of your wrist by using a wrist support
- If your feet don’t rest on the floor when your knees are at a 90-degree angle, use a footrest to support them
- Use a good chair with built-in lumbar support
- Alternatively, why not consider swopping your chair for a gym ball? Gym balls promote good posture and provide a cushion for your spine
- Get up and move around more – talk to colleagues face-to-face rather than emailing
If you are concerned about postural issues, I would recommend an assessment with a CHEK trained professional who will prescribe a detailed corrective exercise programme.
John Macnamara has 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is a CHEK Lifestyle Coach and Golf Performance Specialist. Contact him on Twitter @johnmacpt
*CHEK – Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology