As we all know, sitting is a very common activity at work, just like using a computer (a subject for another day), and it is widely accepted that sitting at a desk the whole day can lead to low back pain, soft tissue, and disc injury12. I’ve assembled a list of things that you can do at your desk to make you feel more comfortable while sitting. There is one MAJOR caveat… most of these suggestions only help you AVOID low back pain. If you are already suffering, you may need to stop reading this and visit Matthews Chiropractic Center. This concept points to an integral part of my care, namely patient education, so that patient’s may take part in prevention of future problems.
4 Tips for Desk Jockey Comfort
1. Maintain Good Posture / Ergonomics
Make sure that your back is supported by your chair3, Use a foot rest, Make your hips higher than your knees using a stress wedge or tilt the back of the seat slightly higher than the front, If you recline your backrest also tilt the seat backwards4.
2. Postural Breaks / Change Position
Take regular breaks from sitting, Get up to stretch and walk every 30 minutes, Change the height of your chair periodically, Do some work standing, Sit on an exercise ball at your desk.
It’s easy to get lost in your work. Some patients set timers that remind them that they should get up and take a walk. Your best work happens when you are relaxed and feel good. Don’t press on when your body tells you it’s time for a break. Do so and you will be better for it.
3. Core Strengthening / Conditioning
Muscles of the back and core fire constantly to maintain stable, upright/sitting posture. Eventually, these muscles can become tired and that makes the back sore and prone to injury. Therefore, strengthening and stretching muscles of the core and deep muscles of the back can help prevent pain and low back injury.
I would recommend starting with 4 exercises that require no equipment:
- Side Bridge
- Bird Dog
Descriptions of these exercises can be found at the American Council on Exercise website.
4. Chiropractic Care
The dangers of prolonged sitting are well documented. In fact, it has been shown that sitting changes the curvature of the spine and increases pressure in the discs56. Chiropractic treatment in my office can help combat the muscular pain and spinal fixation that result from maintaining the spine in stressful postures.
A basic rule of thumb is if it hurts, it needs to move. Drink lots of fluids, take breaks, stretch it out, and as a part of a wellness program get chiropractic adjustments.
Do you have a tip or story you’d like to share about fixing the workplace to better suite your back? Please share them with us.
- Kyphosed seated postures: extending concepts of postural health beyond the office. Pynt J, Mackey MG, Higgs J. J Occup Rehabil. 2008 Mar;18(1):35-45. [↩]
- The response of the nucleus pulposus of the lumbar intervertebral discs to functionally loaded positions. Alexander LA et al. Spine. 2007 Jun 15;32(14):1508-12. [↩]
- Effectiveness of a lumbar support continuous passive motion device in the prevention of low back pain during prolonged sitting. Aota Y et al. Spine. 2007 Nov 1;32(23):E674-7. [↩]
- Lumbar spine curvature during office chair sitting. Lengsfeld M et al. Med Eng Phys. 2000 Nov;22(9):665-9.
- Lumbar lordosis. Effects of sitting and standing. Lord MJ et al. Spine. 1997 Nov 1;22(21):2571-4. [↩]
- Ergonomics of posture–review of various problems of standing and sitting posture. Grandjean E, Hünting W. Appl Ergon. 1977 Sep;8(3):135-40. [↩]