Research shows that more than 80% of all Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, and most of these problems are caused by the way they sit. Although you might not want to believe this, if you work in an office and you spend 8 hours/day at a desk, you are at a higher risk of developing back problems than people who have jobs that require physical effort. And crashing down the couch in front of the TV or in front of your laptop the minute you get back home, is not helping either.
But since we can’t all change our jobs or give up our computer time, here are some tips on how to protect your back:
- It’s all about ergonomics. Regardless of where you spend most of your time, at the desk in your home or at the office, or perhaps in your classroom, make sure everything is optimized for you: your chair, desk height, the position of your monitor, keyboard and so on. As a general rule, you should sit straight and have your monitor placed at eye level. A lot of people look down at their monitor, slouch, lean back and so on. You should adjust your chair so that you can place your feet flat on the floor. Also, if possible, make sure you go for a chair with good lumbar support and with armrests
- Again, if possible, go for a standing desk instead of a traditional one. Standing desks have grown in popularity because they are better for your back. Standing is always healthier than sitting. If standing desks are not an option for you, at least try to take regular breaks to walk a little and stretch your body
- Reduce your smartphone/tablet/iPad time. People who are always with their eyes in a screen, answering emails and texting, usually experience more upper back and neck problems
- Do something about all that squinting. That usually happens when you use laptops and have to lean forward too much in order to see better or reach the keyboard. One solution would be to install another keyboard and monitor
- Try to not sit cross-legged, because it is not good for your spine, shoulders or legs. You risk developing varicose veins because you interrupt your blood flow and your spine will also be affected because it won’t stay straight
- Work your core, or more precisely, the muscles in your pelvis, abdomen and back. You should exercise them at least 3 times/week, by doing sit-ups, front/side plank, crunches and so on
- Don’t hold the phone between your shoulder and ear anymore trying to multitask, because it’s really bad for your neck. If you really need your hands free, use a headset
- If your feet don’t touch the floor and you can’t adjust your chair accordingly, get a foot rest. Not only will you feel more comfortable but you’ll also do your neck and back a big favor
- Learn to breath. This might make you laugh, but yes, there is such a thing as correct breathing. When you are sitting in your chair, try to take a deep breath and breathe from your belly. Among other things, this will be very good for your core muscles.