Desk Jockeys: Sitting Is The New Smoking

How to Improve Your Posture & Decrease Your Risk of Injury at Your Desk Job

According to the New York Times, 80% of modern day Americans work desk jobs. Thats more than a 30% increase from 1960, and the side affects are palpable (literally).

How many of you suffer from:

Back pain? Neck pain? Hip pain? Headaches? Stress? Anxiety? Fatigue? Difficulty focusing?

All of these factors could be in part due to the set-up of your office & workplace habits! Would you like to change this? Well, let us help you!

 

We have put together a Guide addressing 5 main topics to Help you Improve Your Posture & Decrease your Risk of Injury at work! 

 

1) Sitting vs Standing Desk

        Should we sit or stand at work? We get asked this question on a daily basis & the simple answer is both! Staying in either position for extended periods of time without modification is sub-optimal. We all know that sitting is bad for us (Sitting is the New Smoking, anyone?), but what about standing? Frequently people purchase standing desks & expect their aches & pains to magically go away. What they don't realize is that we can get into some pretty funky standing positions that can throw our bodies into malalignment - standing hip pop, ladies?

standing hip pop.jpg

The infamous hip pop.

Resist the habitual urge to stand like this at your standing desk! You will do more harm than good!

        What we recommend is frequent alternation between sitting, standing & most importantly - half kneeling! Yes, HALF KNEELING! This is the most strongly recommended position that we suggest you work in. It forces your spine to stay in a neutral position (go ahead - try to pop your hip; bet you can't!), and if you lean forward just a smidgen, you might just get a yummy little hip flexor stretch as an added bonus! 

Half Kneeling on an Aerex pad. Like my desk?

Half Kneeling on an Aerex pad. Like my desk?

 

2) Proper Desk Ergonomics

        Proper desk ergonomics are EVERYTHING. Think about how many hours a day you are spending at your desk, 5+ days per week, +/- 52 weeks per year .... thats ALOT of hours. Its a lot of hours spent in suboptimal positioning if your desk set-up is not in tip-top shape. 

        Here is a super cool sitting & standing desk ergonomics calculator by Human Solution that recommends optimal desk, screen &/or chair height depending on your physical height. All you have to do is plug in your height in inches & feet & viola! Check it out, see how your current desk situation stacks up & make modifications as necessary!

 

3) Products to Help Improve Your Posture

        Are you really motivated to improve your posture but feel like you need a little help? Here are a couple of our favorite products that we have personally tested & recommend to our clients! Check them out below!

        1. The Better Back!

 

4) Behavior Modification

        Behavior modification is one of the most powerful tools to add to your tool box to injury prevention. Here are some invaluable tips to incorporate into your day:  

        1. Set a timer reminding you to get up & move every 60 minutes!

        2. Remember the days of people taking 2 small 'Smoke Breaks' per day?! Say bu-bye to those days & instead, incorporate 2 small Stretching Breaks into your work day! See below for some tips on some good mid-day stretches that you can do in the office!

        3. Drink plenty of water! - Hydration is the key to a subtle, mobile myofascial system!

        4. Adopt a regular workout regimine - and stick to it! To have optimal posture & balance out our notoriously tight pegs, it is essential to have strong core & upper back musculature! Think traps, rhomboids, rotator cuff musculature & rear deltoid exercises!   

 

5) Last but not least, S-T-R-E-T-C-H!!!!

        And of course, STRETCH! Here are a few good go-to stretches to do in the office when you're short on time. Next time you're waiting for a conference call to start, give these a whirl. Your body will thank you. 

        1. Figure 4 Stretch - glute stretch

*Lie down on the ground next to a wall, crossing your foot over your opposite knee. Gently push your knee toward the wall until you feel a strong but comfortable glute stretch. The closer you are to the wall, the more intense the stretch will be. Hold for 90 seconds & then repeat on the other side.

*Lie down on the ground next to a wall, crossing your foot over your opposite knee. Gently push your knee toward the wall until you feel a strong but comfortable glute stretch. The closer you are to the wall, the more intense the stretch will be. Hold for 90 seconds & then repeat on the other side.

        2. Seated Spinal Twist Stretch - spinal rotation stretch 

*Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left with your right knee bent. Gently twist to the right, pressing your left arm against your right leg to generate a stronger spinal twist. Hold for 90 seconds & gently come out of the stretch. Repeat on the other side.  

*Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left with your right knee bent. Gently twist to the right, pressing your left arm against your right leg to generate a stronger spinal twist. Hold for 90 seconds & gently come out of the stretch. Repeat on the other side.  

        3. Dynamic Triangle Stretch - hamstring/adductor stretch

*Try this one out to give your hamstrings & adductors a nice stretch! Complete 10 reps per side.

        4. Seated Pass-Through Stretch - chest opening stretch

*Looking for a new chest opener? Take this one for a spin! 😊 Use a towel, jacket, or even a pair of your yoga pants out of your post-work gym bag to assist with this stretch! Focus on keeping your head/chest up and your elbows straight throughout the movement. Gently move your hands closer together as your shoulders warm up. Complete 10 reps.

        5. Open Lizard Stretch - hip flexor stretch

*Get into a deep lunge with your right leg forward, your head/chest up and your spine flat. Lean deeper into the lunge until you feel a strong but comfortable stretch in your left hip flexor. Hold for 90 seconds & then switch sides.  

*Get into a deep lunge with your right leg forward, your head/chest up and your spine flat. Lean deeper into the lunge until you feel a strong but comfortable stretch in your left hip flexor. Hold for 90 seconds & then switch sides.  

 

Do you have any suggestions to improving posture that we did not include here? Comment below to share your tips! We want to hear them!

 

Until next time! Flexibly yours,

Lindsay Sudell, MOT, OTR/L, CFST-2, CPT, CFL1