Let’s face it, we all know that sitting is not good for us. However, the majority of people living in the United States work jobs that require you to sit for most of the day. I have a lot of patients who work these types of jobs that come in for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder issues, etc. Although I can see clearly that sitting is affecting their biomechanics and a cause of their pain, I can’t say just stop sitting. So if you do work a job that requires a lot of sitting, what can you do? Here’s some tips for you:
Maximize Your Workstation Biomechanics
Is your computer monitor set up so you don’t have to look up or down at it? Does your chair have good lumbar support? I recommend a McKenzie lumbar roll if your chair doesn’t have good lumbar support. Do you have proper support for your elbows? Do you have a headset for the phone? Do you sit on your wallet? That’s a big no no! There’s lots of little things that you can do that will make a big difference biomechanically.
Sit With Good Posture
The key here is to sit with good posture as much as you can. If anyone tells you that it’s possible to sit all day long with perfect posture, they’re a liar. When you add in the stressors and pressure of working various desk jobs, it’s impossible to sit with good posture. The most common things I see are anterior head carriage where your head is forward too much, forward rolled shoulders and too much lumbar flexion. So do your best to sit with good posture for as long as you can throughout the day!
Move When You Can
Take the long way to the bathroom or printer. Take a walk on lunch even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Have a phone meeting? How about walking around your office while you talk! Find a reason to get up every hour or more frequently and just move. A new thing I’ve seen is the standing desks but even with a standing desk, sedentary is sedentary. The more you sit in the same position, the more you put chronic tension on your tissues leading to injuries.
Do “Anti-Sitting” Exercises
Whenever I have someone that works a desk job, I give them what I call anti-sitting exercises to help counter the effects of sitting. These include exercises to promote thoracic extension and mobility, open up the chest, open up the hip flexors, turn on the glutes, etc. I recommend doing these exercises every single day. The way injuries from sitting occur is that it’s not a single incident that causes the pain. Instead, it’s an accumulation of microtrauma that causes the injury. I’ve created a playlist on my YouTube channel that has videos of some of the anti-sitting exercises I give to my patients, check that out here.
-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS