So many of us--too many of us--have jobs that require us to sit for prolonged periods of time. Add up the time—forty hours per week, 52 weeks per year, year after year after year. This amounts to a majority of our time in the sitting position. Additionally, when we are not at work, what position do we assume to drive, to eat, to watch television? Get the point?! Our muscle start to shorten overtime and this causes imbalances in our posture and can ultimately lead to pain and dysfunction in various parts of our bodies.
One thing you can do easily to counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting is to sit at your desk with proper posture and ergonomic positioning. Ideally, you should have your feet firmly planted on the floor, legs uncrossed, maintain a curve in your low back by pushing your pelvis forward some, align your shoulders over your hips and align your ears with your shoulders. Although this requires additional muscle use (and discipline) to maintain an erect posture, you are greatly alleviating strain on the neck and back muscles, the main culprits in pain syndromes.
The next thing you can do is position your chair, computer monitor, keyboard, phone and any other office equipment you use most often in the most ergonomic-friendly ways. Sitting as described above, you should be able to type on a keyboard with your elbows resting to your sides and bent at 90 degree angles. Your wrists should remain straight during keyboard use. Your monitor should be just below eye level; your hips should be flexed to 90 degrees and your feet should reach the ground fully. You can make adjustments to your chair height or use props (such as a footrest) to achieve this position. If you use the phone regularly, you should use an attachment on the phone that prevents you from bending your neck to hold the phone in place or use earpieces or headphones. The main goal is to keep all joints in the most neutral position and to relieve your muscles from undue stress and strain.
Incorporating basic neck, shoulder, leg and spine stretches frequently throughout the day will also help to stretch the muscles that are being overworked and tightening over time. The main muscles to focus on are in the neck, chest, hip and thigh. Tightness in these areas can be the sole cause of some back and neck syndromes, termed postural dysfunctions. Learning these basic stretches does not take long (I can teach them in just one hour-long session) and it will help to alleviate the problems from sitting too much. You can also help yourself balance out by avoiding the seated position as much as possible when not at work. Try lying on your stomach to watch T.V. or for sleeping instead of reinforcing the flexed positions.
Sitting is a must but sitting with poor posture and bad ergonomic alignment is a must not.
Conshohocken Physical Therapy is not an ordinary Physical Therapy clinic. We believe in changing your life. We are driven by the desire to make a positive impact, both personally and therapeutically, on every person who enters our office.
You will experience pain relief, improved motion and a greater quality of life. Our approach is friendly, evidence-based and innovative and our Doctors of Physical Therapy have the most specialized training in treating your body.
Learn more about Conshohocken Physical Therapy by visiting us online at www.conshypt.com.