Office life will kill your back unless you follow these steps

by Phil Lowe
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Humans were never made to sit for long periods of time. As life has evolved we found ways to sit down more and more. We tend to work from 9-to 5 in a seated position in front of a computer, get on a train and sit down, then come home and sit in front of a television. The average life is now a daily regime of sitting and screens. It is breaking us. The most common result of this life is scoliosis and although that is bad it can be much worse too. If you are experiencing back pain in your life right now or are just sitting a lot and see back pain on your horizon, follow these tips to fight it.

Don’t sit so much

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This first tip is the easy one, you need to take a break from sitting. Every hour of work try and get up and walk to the water cooler or bathroom for a little break. Have a small stretch if you can too. When you leave the office you will likely be tired but try to avoid sitting for a little while. Stand up on the train or bus instead. When you get home try to avoid sitting for a little while too. You likely have a bunch of errands to do so do them instead of sitting down. Although you are tired, sitting is not the cure, it is the cause.

Sit properly

The most important tip though is to sit properly. If you slump down in the chair you will start to experience problems in your legs, back, elbows and neck. Who said office life wasn’t dangerous? Most people I know that work outdoors and on their feet are much healthier than those based in an office.

Start by adjusting your chair. Sit in your chair and ensure that your back is not too far from the back of the chair. It should be securely touching the chair from top to bottom. A pillow isn’t a great solution. A different chair is. The back of the chair should have an angle somewhere close to 90 degrees but up to 110 if required.

Ensure that when you sit on the chair your feet are placed firmly on the ground. If this is not possible use a box to ensure your feet have contact. Leaving your feet hanging idly is not good for you at all. Try and find a chair that has arm supports as well. The most common office chair has no armrest and this is not good as your arms are up constantly and unsupported throughout the day.

The 90-degree rule

In general, you should try and follow the 90-degree rule. The angle between your back and thighs should be 90 degrees. The angle between your thighs and calves should be 90 degrees. The angle between your calves and feet should be, you guessed it, 90 degrees. Finally, you should be able to rest your elbows on your desk or armrest at a 90-degree angle.

The computer

Staring at a computer all day is not good for you either. It is bad for your eyesight and can cause migraines. Ensure that your screen is set up one arm’s length away from your face. It is important that it is directly in your line of sight and that you don’t need to look up or down to view it. Most computer screens are too low. Put your screens on top of some books or a stand to ensure it is high enough.

It is worth experimenting with a standing desk, ergonomic keyboard, and ergonomic mouse. However most people don’t like these things and they end up unused. If you can trial one before buying it is a smart solution to see if you will commit.

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