Many workers today find themselves spending hours upon hours in chairs rooted in front of computers.
With a majority of jobs involving desk work, it isn’t hard to see why sitting down all day is causing a epidemic of back issues.
We’re not built that way
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The human body wasn’t designed for extended periods of sitting.
In fact, physicians and scientists around the world are identifying all the adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles. Dr. James Levine even coined the phrase: “sitting is the new smoking.”
Clearly, inactivity is killing us. Studies reveal that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing serious illnesses–like cancers, heart disease, diabetes—and contributes to back pain.
Without movement, the body deteriorates and the more you sit the worse it gets. Sitting cuts off circulation, reduces blood flow, causes muscles to atrophy, and affects brain function. Body aches and pains are inevitable.
Here are 5 recommendations to ease back pain at work:
1. Sit properly with shoulders back, feet flat on the floor, head up. Avoid the hunched shoulders and crossed legs which blocks the body’s natural energy flow.
2. Try using a standing desk so you work in a totally upright position which is far healthier. Experiments with upright desks in a few school districts in the United States have shown students have increased attentiveness and improved learning time.
3. If you can’t use a stand-up desk, take stand-up breaks. At least once every 90 minutes, get up off your butt and stretch. Do some neck rolls, shoulder shrugs or take a walk to the bathroom. It boosts circulation and actually improves productivity.
4. If you’re on the telephone for more than 5 minutes, use a headset or speakerphone rather than sandwiching the phone between your shoulder and ear, as many multitaskers do! This action causes constrictions and harmful pressure on the cervical spine.
5. Stress at work causes excess tension in your body, too. Practice ways to reduce stress and anxiety like #3 above or try the following:
2-Minute Tension-Relieving Routine
– Stand tall. Extend your arms over your head.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and release the breath with a sigh as you circle your arms and relax them at your sides.
– With your arms resting at your sides, standing tall, gently rotate your neck around clockwise as you count to 20 (so the movement is slow) and then counterclockwise to a count to 20.
– Stand tall, hinge at the hips, fold forward and down.
Allow your arms to just dangle towards the floor. Relax your head and your neck. Take a full deep breath in and out. Keeping your knees soft, slowly roll up. Take another full deep breath in and out. You can even do this sitting in a chair but obviously it’s more effective if you stand.
If you do the 2-Minute Routine at least twice a day, it will help prevent back issues.
Mindfulness can also play a huge role in keeping you aware of the need to move. Training yourself can be assisted by setting a watch or smartphone to signal a reminder every few hours to stop and get moving!
Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the best-selling book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.
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