How to Avoid Postural Issues When You Work in a Seated Position All Day
We all know that working at a desk or driving for long periods of time can cause a lot of problems for your health, but often we think it is possible to counteract these simply by balancing a sedentary job with a good amount of exercise outside of work. While this is definitely going to improve your fitness and your figure, it may not be all that you need to prevent some of the other problems associated with working at a desk, or in other mostly seated situations.
Problems Caused By Spending Your Working Day Sitting Down
Spending a long time sitting down means spending a lot of time with your muscles, bones and joints in a certain position. Exercising when you are not working helps stop you from gaining weight through lack of activity, and also strengthens up your body – allowing it to stretch out and move – but it doesn’t really address the fact that no matter what you do the rest of the time, you are spending 7-10 hours a day sitting in one position. This can have significant effects on your posture, that can have knock on effects on your general health, causing things like headaches, stiffness, back pain and reduced joint mobility. If you do sport, you will also find it can make your performance suffer due to muscular imbalances and reduced flexibility, and you will also be more prone to injury.
Of course, you can’t do much about the fact your job is one where you need to sit for hours a day – especially if you are doing something like driving where it isn’t even possible to stand up and stretch or walk around every so often. So, what can you do to lessen the effects of a seated job on your posture?
Be Aware of Existing Postural Defects
Most people already have some postural defects which will worsen as they spend longer seated. You may not know that you have them, because since they are so common, you may think of defective posture as normal posture. You may, however, already be noticing some effects. Do you suffer from stiff shoulders and often feel like you could really do with a massage? You may put this down to stress, but posture is a likely cause too. Do you have unexplained back pain, for instance sciatica? Do your legs, hips or back hurt after you walk for an hour? These things aren’t always down to posture issues, and if they are severe you should seek help from a pain diagnostic and treatment center, however posture can be a good place to start in investigating why you experience these pains.
On their own, minor postural defects aren’t a big deal unless you are a professional dancer – in which case you aren’t spending all day sitting down. However, putting in some research and learning what the common postural problems are, whether you have any of them, and how to correct them through stretches and consciously modifying how you move, will help prevent the problems from worsening. It will also help alleviate the symptoms you already have, and as an even bigger bonus, make you look slimmer, and more graceful when you move!
Some common postural issues include anterior pelvic tilt, where your pelvis tilts backwards causing your butt to stick out (but also your belly), ‘texter’s neck’, where you carry your head too far forward (extremely common in people who work with computers), and ‘duck feet’, where one or both feet point outwards when you walk, due to the hips being turned outwards. Learn about these and other common issues and you’ll begin to see what kind of things you may already need to address, and what you need to avoid.
Get the Best Seated Position You Can
When you understand any posture defects you already have and have started working on them, you will already be more mindful of how you walk, stand, and most importantly sit. Chairs in offices have to be adjustable to comply with health and safety laws, so make sure you take advantage of this and ensure you adjust yours for proper lumbar support and to a height where you are at eye level with the screen with your head and back straight – you can also use a stand to raise your monitor. Make similar adjustments or use seat covers that offer better postural support in your car.
Exercise is a good start in the battle against health problems caused by seated working, as are regular breaks where you get up and stretch. However, knowing about posture and being mindful of how you sit can make an even bigger difference.