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Editions

Health and Wellbeing - March 2020

26 Feb 2020

The importance of sitting correctly to save your spine

By Brittany Talbot, CHIROPRACTOR

We’ve all heard it before, sitting is bad for you. But do we really know how harmful it is to our health?

The average desk worker spends around 35 hours per week seated and this doesn’t even include time spent sitting in the car, on public transport or on the couch at the end of the day.

Being sedentary or seated uses less energy than standing or moving around which can lead to other health related problems. A 2018 report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services found a strong evidential link between increased time spent in sedentary positions and a greater all-cause mortality rate.

If we look at human evolution, sitting is not a natural human resting position and has only evolved due to the invention of the chair. When we are seated for long periods our hip flexors and erector spinae muscles shorten and tighten and our gluteal muscles and abdominal muscles become weakened, which is known as lower crossed syndrome and is extremely common in people who sit for extended times.

Poor seated posture happens when people sit with their spine in a C-shaped position instead of a natural S-shaped position. When most people sit in this position the coccyx bone (which most people know as the tailbone) at the bottom of the spine becomes the main weight bearer for the body’s weight. However, the coccyx is a non-weight bearing joint.

So, what happens when we sit in the C-position? Our lower back starts to hurt due to increased weight and pressure on the area along with the changes to our musculature leading to lower crossed syndrome. If someone was to continually do this, it can lead to other problems including breathing issues.

How should I sit in my chair?

Your feet should be flat on the ground and knees at a 90-degree angle.

Your spine should be pressing up against the back of the chair and there should be no gap between you and the chair back. This prevents slouching into the C-shape.

The keyboard should be at the edge of the table, this keeps your elbows back behind your body and resists the motion of leaning forward to chase the keyboard and mouse.

The bottom of the screen monitor should be at your eye level, not the top of the screen. This is because even if your eye level is at the top of the screen as the day progresses there is still room to slouch, whereas if your eye level is at the bottom of the screen the only way you can go is up! You can increase your screen height by using books or paper stacks.

How can I combat sitting all day?

If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, ensure you take a break to stand every 30 minutes by either setting a timer on your phone or using an app such as Stand Up! The Work Break Timer.

Send your printing to the furthest printer. This ensures you get a short walk as well as getting out of the chair.

Instead of heading to the boardroom for a meeting opt to go for a walk around the block and have the meeting that way.

Introducing sit-stand desks can be good for reducing time spent seated. Ensure when you are standing that you have your feet shoulder width apart and are not leaning into the desk or leaning on one leg. Same rules apply for keyboard and monitor height.

Instead of taking the short tram ride to Southern Cross Station opt to walk instead.

If your email recipient is within walking distance, get up and walk to them to talk instead of sending an email.

The most important point to take out of this is your workspace should apart around you, instead of your posture adapting around your workspace!

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