Sitting Correctly For 2014 – Less pain more productivity

If you do sit for long periods some minor changes can reduce strain on your spine, altering the way you sit and adjusting  your chair can be of great benefit in reducing strain on the lower back and neck.  Aids such as a lumbar support can also help keep your spine aligned correctly.

Support your lumbar curve

Maintain your lumbar curve with a good supportive chair with a decent lumbar support, this reduces the stress on the discs and joints in the low back and reduces the fatigue you feel in the low back as the day progresses. If your chair is not up to scratch you can buy an inexpensive pre-made support, or make one with a towel rolled to 4 to 6 inches diameter. Place the support or towel in the small of your back.

image showing the correct way to sit

Sitting correctly can have a huge impact on spinal health.

Tip your Pelvis forward

Help restore your lumbar curve: Tip your pelvis forward by adjusting the seat angle on your chair or if your seat is not adjustable by using a seat wedge. Use a pre-made wedge.  Ensure you are still supported by the backrest when you do this.

Sit close to your work

Slide your chair under your desk as far as you can, this helps to prevent slouching forwards putting strain on your lower back.  In this way, you’re sitting directly over your work.

Use document stands

Use a document stand or sheet holder when you type or read. This tilts your work up to eye level preventing unnecessary strain on your neck and upper back.

Regularly move in your chair

Staying active in your chair helps keep muscles and ligaments flexible and relaxed helping to prevent back and neck problems.   Move your neck and low back gently twisting and moving from side to side every half hour.  Take care when doing sudden bending or twisting to your limit  as these are two of the most common ways to hurt your back when sitting, especially if you have been sitting for a long period without moving or taking micro breaks.

Shifting position

Shifting position can take the strain off your back and prevent back fatigue.  Shift from one hip to another transferring your weight every half hour.

Take micro-breaks

Give your back a break.  Move a bit if you’ve been sitting too long.  Stand and stretch.  Have a short walk for a few minutes up and down the corridor ensuring that you swing your arms when walking, this has the effect of loosening and mobilising the spine far more effectively than just walking with your hands in your pockets or down at your sides.   Below are some exercises for loosening the neck, upper back and shoulders, designed by Plymouth chiropractor Kevin Kelly, these can be download here.

image of exercises to do at work

Do these exercises more often – every half to 1 hour if you sit for most of the  day at work.  They take 30 secs

Turn as a unit

When you turn especially if lifting, move your body as a single unit, rather than twisting. Try to keep your hips and feet pointed in the same direction you’re moving.  When sitting and turning ensure that you twist using the chairs rotation and not twisting from your waist.

Support the phone

Support your “phone arm” on your elbow to keep your neck aligned.  It also helps to switch sides often.  Never have the neck holding the phone between your neck and shoulder.  If you take a lot of calls use an phone headset this will help you tremendously.