Good Habits for Your Spine at Work
Chiropractors tend to see a lot of workplace injuries. Many jobs put people at risk for acute musculoskeletal injuries, and we’re dedicated to providing workers with minimally invasive care that allows their bodies to make the most efficient use of their native healing power. But some people are also subjected to chronic injuries while at work, and those are usually things people do not realize are a problem until they’ve become quite serious. This month, we’re going to take a look at how people can better protect their spines while at workstations or if their jobs require them to spend long hours on the road.
One of the basic problems with a desk job is that there’s really no one position we should be in for hours at a time. However, some positions put more stress on us than others, and some people mistakenly believe that if they’re sitting all day, they’re not at risk of putting excess strain on the soft tissues of their musculoskeletal system.
A basic aspect of maintaining your health while at a desk is to get a chair that can be adjusted for your height. Your chair should allow your feet to rest flat on the floor while your thighs are straight out. The chair’s back should be flush to your lower back, with curves to support it, and you should be able to sit far enough forward with your back supported for there to be empty space between your seat and your knees. Your armrests shouldn’t require your shoulders to hunch up, and they should support your elbows when your arms are straight out from your body.
Your monitor should be positioned to allow you to see it while keeping your head upright. It should be about twenty inches from your eyes and you shouldn’t need to twist your head to see it. Your keyboard and mouse (which you should definitely be using instead of a laptop) should be at a height where you can use them with your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows and close enough that you don’t have to extend your arms very far.
A standing desk may help you to spend less time in stressful positions if you are alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day, but be mindful that you return it to your optimal position each time you sit.
It’s easy while driving to forget to change positions every twenty to thirty minutes, but it’s essential for your long-term wellbeing. It’s also a good idea to get out of the car completely and stretch about every ninety minutes.
You’ll want your seat to be high enough for you to be able to see without bending or hunching over. As with desk jobs, there should be a space between your knees and seat, but your back should be supported. Your head should also be resting against the headrest instead of in a forward position.
Musculoskeletal problems are also common among people such as hairdressers who have to be on their feet for long periods, even if they don’t lift heavy objects. One of the best things people in this position can do is stand on cushioned floor mats and wear shoes with roomy toeboxes that won’t slide their feet forward. Some chiropractic offices offer customized shoe inserts. Maintaining good core strength is helpful for maintaining good posture and will further reduce the burden on spinal discs and connective muscles. Your chiropractor will be able to guide you through therapeutic stretches that are designed to suit your unique condition if you have any specific problems.