Do you have back pain during the week that seems to improve during the weekend?
If you’re like most professionals and office workers, there is one thing you do during the week that you don’t do on the weekend: hunch over a computer at your desk.
Now imagine you could make that weekend last a week or two.
Wow, would your back get better. You can probably already see why.
Two of the worst things you can do for you back are:
- Hunch over a computer
Sitting puts pressure on your lumbar discs – the discs in your lower spine – while allowing most of the muscles of your lower body to relax.
Arranged like this, the muscles that stabilize the lower back and hips must do all the work of holding up your trunk themselves. The spine therefore relaxes and bends into an exaggerated curve unsupported by the surrounding muscles.
But wait, it gets worse.
Your upper back, shoulders and neck are also taking a beating as you sit at your computer. Most computers are not set up ergonomically. Users must look up or down at their screen, straining the neck muscles.
The keyboard is too high, forcing them to hunch their shoulders to type.
They hunch forward with their head and body, increasing the effective weight their spine is asked to support.
It’s a tiny spinal disaster, persisting for hours on end, day after day after day.
And then it stops.
Imagine banging your head against the wall all day. Think how much better you would feel if you stopped for a day. Then think how much better you would feel if you stopped for a week.
But unless you’re ready to retire, you probably need to go back to work. You need the health insurance and the 401(k), and the mortgage is due next week. So what should you do?
Why not give your back a permanent vacation by learning to work ergonomically? That means sit as little as possible. They make standing desks that are very easy to use. Standing is natural and not particularly tiring.
If you must sit, make sure your chair is comfortable and supports your back. Set it at the right height. Get your screen at eye level so you neck is straight. Move the keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor when you type.
And as your mom told you when you were a child: sit up straight.
Or better yet, just stay on vacation. It’s not only your back that will thank you.
Click here for more blogs by Dr. Steven Freeman.