Working for long hours in front of the computer screen can put a lot of strain on the neck and back. Most of us have a desk job which causes us to sit too much. The average person sits more than 8 hours per day. Many office workers sit as much as 15 hours per day. Studies show that even if you work out daily it cannot replace the damage of prolonged sitting. Before knowing about the tips to prevent back pain, let have a quick look at how sitting for long can affect your overall health.
Health effects of prolonged sitting
Prolonged sitting can ruin your health right from affecting the back and straining your neck to increasing your risk of spinal problems and leg disorders. Here are some of the common effects of prolonged sitting you should be aware of.
Strained neck: If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.
Disk damage: People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks.
Heart diseases: Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have heart diseases.
Diabetes: The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases.
Obesity: Sitting puts your metabolism to sleep. An hour of daily exercise won’t counteract the negative health effects of sitting.
Leg disorders: Sitting for long periods of time slows blood circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Tips To Improve Work-related Back Pain
By following simple tips you can lower the strain on the back and improve the symptoms of work-related back pain. Let’s find out how by maintaining a good posture and staying active throughout the day, you can minimize the risk of back pain and many other health-related issues.
Here are some easy ways of preventing back pain at your workplace:
1. Choose a Good, Comfortable Chair
Pick one that allows your lower back to rest against lumbar support. The chair should allow you to rest both feet flat on the floor while keeping your knees level with your hips. Tilt the back of the chair so it’s very slightly reclined. Position your knees at 90 degrees, directly over your ankles; this will keep your spine comfortably upright.
2. Do Not Slouch or Hunch Over
Slouching and hunching over a computer are the leading causes of crippling back pain. Keep your head straight. Focus on aligning your head and neck right above your shoulders; avoid straining forward.
3. SIt At The Right Level Above The Ground
Your torso should be about an arm’s length away from the monitor, which should be 2 to 3 inches above eye level. Do watch your feet as you should keep your feet planted on the floor and shoulder-width apart to minimize tension in your knees and ankles.
4. Do not Strain Your Back
While using the laptop, you tend to lean forward to reach keys or see the screen. One way to solve the problem is to attach a separate monitor and keyboard.
5. Do Not Cross Your Legs When Sitting
Sitting cross-legged makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared, and you risk overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, upping your risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow.
6. Take Frequent Breaks
Getting up at least once an hour to go to the bathroom or just do some shoulder rolls. It helps reduce pressure on the spine and boosts circulation.
7. Do Not Forget To Stretch Frequently
Stretch after every 1-2 hours. Try re-enacting your morning wake-up, stretching your arms out to the ceiling, then do a few lunges or stand still and rotate your body above the waist. Don’t forget to include your neck and shoulders, rolling your head from shoulder to shoulder.
8. Opt For a Cushion Mat
If your job requires you to stand for long hours, use a rubber cushion mat for standing (example: surgeons, hairdressers). It helps increase circulation and relieve both leg and back fatigue.
Additionally, there are few tips on how you can reduce the ill-effects of prolonged sitting on your overall health including the back. Here are a few:
-Park your car at the farthest possible parking slot and walk towards your work place
-Take the stairs as often as you can as it helps to mitigate the ill-effects of prolonged sitting and helps you to move.
-Make sure you stand and move every hour because it eases the excess pressure on the muscles and improves the flexibility of the muscles. Remember that if you can stand, don’t sit, if you can walk, don’t stand.
-Do simple stretching exercises in your chair after every 2 hours to break the monotony of sitting for too long.
-Adjust your chair for comfort, support, and movement
-Adjust the backrest cushion up/ down to fit the curve of your low back as it helps to ease the pressure on the back and spine
-While seated you should fidget as it causes contraction and relaxation of the muscles and also helps to flex and extend your legs thereby improving your mobility.
-Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid processed and oily foods.
-Munch salads or a handful of nuts and fresh fruits to improve your bone strength and overall health
-Drink plenty of water (2-3 liters a day). as it helps you to stay hydrated and flushes out toxins from the body.
-Replace your cups of coffee with green tea. Also, limit your sugar intake as it can cause serious damage to the organs in the long run.