The average Canadian spends more than 10 hours each day sitting – we sit to eat, sit to drive, sit during screentime and often sit for most of our workdays. Prolonged periods of sitting decrease our blood flow, slow down our metabolism, can lower our bone density, and put increased strain and load on some of our muscles and joints. Some are referring to “sitting as the new smoking” in terms of its negative impact on our health. So how can we break this pattern, especially when work at a desk?
If you are sitting for extended periods of time, it’s recommended to get up and move at least once an hour – go for a drink of water, walk to the printer, try a walking meeting, stand while you are eating your lunch, or walk over to talk with a colleague in person rather than sending a message. Try using an app or an alert on your computer to remind you to get up to walk or stretch at regular intervals. Sit-to-stand workstations are also a great option, allowing you to alternate positions throughout the day.
When you are sitting, try to set up your workstation optimally to minimize the strain on your body.
Support your arms and legs.
If your legs are dangling, and don’t quite reach the floor, try using a small footrest to support the weight of your legs. This will help to keep you from sliding down in your chair, and decrease the pressure on the back of your thighs. Similarly, using a chair with arm rests, adjusted to allow your forearms to rest on them comfortably, will help minimize the strain on your shoulder and neck muscles from holding up the weight of your arms. Position your keyboard and mouse close to you to avoid a long reach forwards.
Sit with your bottom to the back of your chair, and use the lumbar support to help you sit tall. Keep your chair pulled in close to your workstation to minimize your forward reach. Position your monitor directly in front of you to ensure you aren’t sitting with a twist in your neck or back. As well, the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes to help maintain a neutral neck position.
If you begin to experience pain from prolonged sitting, come see a Physiotherapist here at Avenue Physiotherapy. We can help you by treating your injury, and give you tips more specific to your workstation.