Your job may be a pain in the neck, especially if you have a sedentary desk job. As more and more Americans spend 8-10 hours a day sitting at a desk staring at a screen, the incidence of poor posture and chronic neck and back pain is rising. Our bodies were designed to stand and move, not to sit for a third of our lives.
A few simple techniques will help you prevent the hunched, slumped posture and chronic pain of a sedentary desk job.
Make sure your desk and chair fit. Your screen should be at eye level or slightly below. Your arms should be at 90 degrees while you type, your low back should be supported, and your feet should be flat on the floor. Even better: see if you can get your company to provide a treadmill desk or even a desk that allows you to switch from sitting to standing occasionally.
Take breaks. At least once per hour, stand up from your desk, change your focus, and move your body. Just a minute or two per hour is all it takes to loosen stiff muscles, but the more you can move, the better. Try talking to a coworker in person rather than via email, or take a walk around the building on your break.
Stretch and strengthen. When you sit slumped over your keyboard you develop chronically shortened muscles in your chest and the front of your shoulders, and chronically slack and weakened muscles in your upper back and rear shoulders. Correct the imbalance by stretching your chest muscles and strengthening your upper back and rear shoulders with resistance exercises. This process alone is often enough to relieve the chronic neck pain so many desk workers get.
Breathe and relax. The stress of your job compounds daily if you never take the time to find relief. Before you know it, the muscles in your shoulders and neck are clenched tight. Breathing deeply gets oxygen flowing to your brain and muscles. You'll feel more mentally sharp even while your muscles relax.
What helps you undo the poor posture you slump into at your desk?
(photo credit: Mike Lewis)