I have recently come across report after report highlighting the various unhealthy drawbacks to working a 9-to-5 desk job. A recent study from the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that people who work at a desk 6+ hours a day were significantly more likely to die sooner than those who didn’t. That’s right; your job might quite literally be killing you. Couple a sedentary desk job with a stressful career and you’re really in trouble… stressed individuals are 40-percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.
It is clear... desk jobs are unhealthy. Our bodies just weren't made to slump over a desk for most of the day. And one of the first signs that something is wrong, is chronic back pain.
Back pain can be caused by many things, but if you spend long hours sitting at a desk, it is likely the primary cause for your back issues. In many cases, you may have experienced a traumatic back injury at some point in time, and sitting at a desk aggravates that injury. But what can you do?! For many of us, we have no choice but to work at a desk. Were it not for our offices and computers, we might not have a job.
The good news is that there are things we can do to counter the negative effects of a sedentary desk job. The following list features the most effective ways to reduce back pain (as well as other health issues) when you work a desk job.
- Find the right chair. Look for ergonomic chairs and be sure to adjust the height so that your arms fall at a comfortable 90 degree angle to the keyboard. If you have a documented medical issue, most companies will buy the chair for you. If they do not, it is worth the person investment.
- Sit up straight. Do not lean forward or slouch in your chair. A lumbar support cushion or a lower back lumbar brace will help you hold the correct posture.
- Use a foot rest. A small foot rest that holds your feet at a ninety degree angle will help to reduce tension and relieve lower back pain.
- Take a break. Take hourly breaks and walk around a bit.
- Exercise at your desk. Consider purchasing a small bicycle peddler to place underneath your desk. This will not only move your body, countering the sedentary issue, but if you lightly peddle for half the day (4 hours), you could burn between 800 to 1000 calories. That’s a whopping 10 to 17 pounds in a month according to this biking calorie counter. Add less belly weight means less strain on your back.
- Have a stretch. There are a number of yoga-like stretches you can perform at your desk that will relieve muscle tension as well as stress.
- Get stronger. Try to work in strength training at least twice each week, with particular focus on core and back muscles. This could be lifting weights, using resistance bands, or even practicing yoga or Pilates. If you do not have a serious injury, a balance ball chair will teach your body to hold the correct posture while also strengthening your core.
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, or be taken as medical advice. For more information related to your unique situation, please speak with your personal physician.
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