It’s been estimated that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours a year at a computer. That’s over 70 days spent sitting at our desk. It’s no surprise, then, that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are having an effect on our spine. Whether it’s temporary back pain, chronic tension or general discomfort, we’re here to help. Here are our 5 top tips for a healthier spine at work:
Keep your screen at eye level
Text neck. You may have heard of it, and you’ve probably experienced it. The tension and pain in your neck from looking down too frequently at your phone, tablet or computer screen. Though it may not become a long-term problem, it’s certainly not comfortable.
Buy a stand (or improvise with books, paper or similar) to keep your laptop or computer screen at eye level.
Keeping your screen at eye level keeps your neck in a neutral position, i.e. not abnormally bent or titled. This avoids unnecessary pressure to your intervertebral discs, helping you have a tension-free day.
Mind your posture
Don’t forget the rest of your body – a neutral neck is only part of the solution. It’s not uncommon to experience back pain from slouching over your desk, crossing your legs or not sitting upright.
Follow these simple steps to achieve a neutral sitting position:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Keep your hips slightly above your knees
- Sit far back in your seat so your lower back is supported against the chair
- Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
You could try placing a small block under your feet if your chair is too tall, or sitting on a flat, hard cushion to elevate you if it is too short. Remember to keep a neutral spine when walking too: knees soft, feet shoulder width apart, shoulders pulled back and head upright.
Take regular breaks
Not only will this help with your back, but your concentration too. Whether it’s making a tea or coffee, going to the bathroom or getting some fresh air, it all works.
Take a break every 45-60 minutes, even for a few minutes. Take a walk around the office, do some light stretching or even try combining it with reaching your daily water intake by keeping a topped up bottle on your desk, forcing you to take a bathroom break more regularly.
This one can be particularly hard to stay on top off. If a break every hour is unreasonable, going for a short walk when you notice yourself fidgeting is a good alternative.
Keep your bag light
This one goes to all the hand-bag wearers. Stylish as they are, your spine isn’t loving them. The load puts abnormal tension on your joints, creating asymmetry in your gait, posture and muscles. As a result, your surrounding muscles will compensate for the load. This may manifest in an elevated shoulder, spasming in the opposite side or even tension headaches.
If a backpack (with both straps on correctly) isn’t an option, keeping your bag as light as possible will help lessen the impact on your spine. Invest in a bag with sturdier straps, and alternate between which side you carry your bag on. Right side in the morning and left side in the evening, for example.
This may require more organisation, or a slight shift in daily habits. Leaving your laptop or gym gear at the office, for example, will help lighten the load.
Book a chiropractic appointment
Last but certainly not least, book a chiropractic appointment! We are firm believers in the power of chiropractic, and the importance of staying in alignment for both your spine and general well-being. Our experienced chiropractors will assess your spine and work on realigning your joints with the aim of alleviating any existing pain or discomfort – to find out more, take a look at why chiropractic. Combined with the above four tips, you should be on the right track to maintaining a healthy, happy and tension-free spine for longer.
See what works best for your body and work environment, practice them with consistency and your spine will thank you! If you have any further questions or want to find out more about how chiropractic could help you, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or contact us – we’ll be happy to help.