Sometimes you can’t beat the inevitable. There are some jobs where sitting is really the only option. So what do you do then?
We have to applaud our occupational world for trying but they really have it all wrong. Someone coming back to work after a back injury is automatically put on “light duty”. Well this light duty ends up being a desk job until he or she is cleared for active work. If you’ve learned anything from this site then you should know that sitting for long periods of time is the devil. This only causes more issues for that employee. Again, we appreciate the thoughtfulness in our back pain recovery but our employers need to be brought up to speed!
The good thing is that there has been a recently proposed guideline suggesting that seated work should not exceed 50 minutes in duration. (McGill) This hasn’t become official but at least they’re trying.
There is a solid 3 step approach that you can take to your desk jockey job that is going to change the way your back feels. Follow these 3 points and you will be off to a great start!
1) Use your chair wisely: Note that I didn’t say go BUY a good chair. You just have to use it wisely. Most chairs these days purchased for the office are fairly ergonomic. For starters get the 90 degree rule out of your head. We have been told since I can remember to position our chair to where our knees, hips and elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Yea right, that will last about 15 minutes max. You will be bent over before you finish your first email!
The key to mastering the art of sitting is to cycle through different sitting positions. Tissue loads must migrate from tissue to tissue to minimize the risk of any single tissue damage (McGill 148). The only way to do this is to change your posture through out the day. For years I thought that there was only 1 proper way of sitting in a chair. I didn’t want to say anything but that way of doing it only made my pain worse!
Here are a few different positions that will actually bring relief rather then keep in you in the same position for 8 hours!
2) Get up and move around: I know this makes total sense but most people don’t do it. Simply leaning back in your chair or twisting from side to side is not going to cut it. You need to get up and do the opposite of what you have been doing the whole time at your desk. The key is to give yourself a hand full of 10-20 second breaks in a neutral standing position. This allows the disc fluid (nucleus) to redistribute between the vertebrae. While standing you can do neck rolls or even rotate your arms around some to losen any stiffness from having your arms in an extended position for so long. Another simple standing relief drill is to have your arms stretch directly above your head, tilt your head back slightly and take a deep breath in. This will gently put some extension in your back relieving any micro stress your discs may have collected from sitting.
I know there are some people who say “Well, my job requires me to sit without any time for breaks”. Most of the time these people just need to be shown how to make the most of their time while working. One example would be while talking on the phone. Most can manage to stand up when conducting phone calls. Use your time wisely and get creative.
3) Get in some kind of mid day workout. I personally am an early morning exerciser (which is actually bad for me) but I tend to set my day up better with my workouts in the am. There are a lot of jobs that have a training facility within their company or allow an hour lunch break where you could easily get in a simple yet effective workout. Remember when workout out you want to focus on reversing what sitting has been doing to you. Don’t go into the gym and do a bunch of bench pressing and sit ups. That will only make things worse. The goal of exercise is to train in a way that will bring you away from the risk of back pain. The more in shape you are doesn’t mean you are less susceptible to back injury. Its about the quality of your training not quantity!
Thanks for reading!
What other sitting positions do you use while at work? Leave a comment below! I would love to add more to my arsenal!
If this helped you in any way I would love to share it with others so they too can beat their back pain and get relief! It would mean the world to me if you shared it with your friends and family so they too can get relief!