What Chiropractic Patients Need to Know About Sitting Ergonomics
Sitting ergonomics or your seated posture while working is not exercise unless you work at it. It’s no big secret that exercise is good for you. Many articles and books have been written and studies completed on the subject of physical fitness.
However, lately, it’s been discussed as to whether that five-mile run or spin class is really enough. Is our work area environment (workplace ergonomics) undoing any positive effort we put into staying healthy? The short answer is YES.
Human bodies were not built to sit for long periods of time. Our twenty-first-century workplace — working behind a desk, typing on the computer, endless video conferences — unfortunately stacks against us to keep us on our… well, not our feet.
There are four harmful results on a person’s body that stem from sitting at work.
Improper sitting ergonomics for many hours each day takes a toll on our backs.
Working at a desk for many hours a day causes employees to stay in one position for an extended length of time. This puts a great deal of pressure on their backs. Over time, painful back problems can develop and, if left untreated, continue to worsen.
Improper sitting ergonomics also takes a toll on our waistline.
Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States, and at least a good chunk of the reason is our sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for a long period (8 or more hours a day) decreases our metabolism, causing us to burn fewer calories. The time at our desks can end up packing on the pounds.
Improper sitting ergonomics can increase the chance of developing a life-threatening disease.
Studies show individuals with sedentary jobs have more health problems than their active counterparts. Cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes are both examples of health issues that arise more often in people who regularly sit down most of the day.
Improper sitting ergonomics can cause premature death.
This may sound melodramatic, but it’s true. As we talked about above, sitting for prolonged periods of time puts you at greater risk of diseases that may end up killing you. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “found people who sat for over 11 hours a day had a 40% greater risk of dying within three years from any cause than people who sat less than 4 hours a day.”
What changes should you make?
So, what should a sedentary office person do to improve their overall health and decrease the risk many hours of daily sitting causes?
- Get on your feet! Schedule times during the day to stand up and walk around. If you can’t remember to do it, add an alarm on your cell phone. Even a couple minutes on your feet every hour will help balance prolonged sitting.
- Learn to sit with correct body position. If you must sit, make certain the height of your chair isn’t causing more damage. Select a chair that is height and angle adjustable. The seat should support your lower body, and the back should fit the curves of your spine. Also, make sure your upper arm and lower arm are at a 90-degree angle.
- Proper monitor placement. Make sure the top of the screen monitor is at eye level and , if you need them, wear bifocals. Special bonus points go to chairs with lumbar support and that rock. Also, keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Visit your chiropractor. Back problems brought on by a job behind a desk are not going to magically go away and can get worse over time. Make a chiropractor appointment, get examined, and work with chiropractic care to correct the issue.
- Invest in a standing desk. A growing trend is to turn a sitting job into a standing job. Desks that are taller have the ability to keep you on your feet longer, which will provide many health benefits in the long run. Make sure everything is within easy reach.
Good health is one of our greatest assets, and it pays to protect it. By understanding the risks of a sedentary working environment, we can be proactive in increasing activity and promoting our individual fitness.