With low back ache affecting around a quarter of office workers in any one year, looking after your health at work has never been more important. If you spend all day at a desk, check out our top tips for better backs.
Today’s sedentary lifestyle is often cited as the greatest health risk of the modern age. And with its links to back ache, obesity and diabetes, it’s not hard to see why. But if you’re stuck at your desk for long hours, don’t despair! There are some easy ways to look after your body. Here are our top tips:
1. Good posture is key to preventing back ache, right? Wrong.
Research increasingly shows there’s no ‘bad’ posture that will give you back or neck pain. Evidence suggests it’s not so much the position you sit in as how long you stay in it. So, while there is a link between backpain and desk working, there’s little to show that the link is causal. The real key is to keep shifting.
Use height-adjustability at your desk with a riser desk or a laptop stand and move between sitting and standing positions. Or keep active in your seat using your chair’s tilt function, or a ’Swiss ball’ style chair.
2. But posture is still important!
So, while posture isn’t quite the ‘kill or cure’ factor we once thought it was, that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. It’s important to take your personal context into account. For example, if you have a disc bulge in your back, you’ll find some postures are more comfortable than others. Talk to an ergonomics professional or your osteopath who will be able to advise you on adjustments you can make specific to your needs.That might include a lumbar support, a footstool, or an ergonomic mouse for your desk. Though there’s no ‘right’ posture, there may be a ’right for you’ one.
Beyond back ache, postural issues can affect how your body functions. For instance, research shows that a ‘forward head posture’ weakens the respiratory muscles and negatively affects breathing. This is particularly important for people who already have breathing disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or asthma
And it’s not just breathing. Posture affects digestion, slowing transit and causing heartburn. The increase in intra-abdominal pressure that comes with a slouched posture can make you more vulnerable to stress incontinence. There are still good reasons to sit up straight!
However, on a positive note, research also shows that manual therapy and therapeutic exercise can improve respiratory function, strengthen core muscles and improve your posture. So if you have any concerns, give us a call– we’re here to help.
3. Be ‘appy’!
We all get invested in our work, and it’s easy to let time pass without realising how long you’ve been sitting still for. Fight back with an app that reminds you to take regular breaks and stay active:
7 Minutes Workout: If you have the space in your office (and you don’t worry about what your co-workers will think), try this popular app. You’ll get a high-intensity circuit-training-style exercise programme that takes (you guessed it) only seven minutes.
StandApp: This app allows you to set ‘stand up’ reminders at intervals of your choice and provides you with a selection of easy-to-perform exercises.
Randomly RemindMe: If you’ve been trying to cultivate some good habits, this app could help. Set your own custom reminders, and either decide how often you want the app to remind you or allow it to remind you randomly!
4. Think about your fluid intake
Bodies need water to work. That includes the discs and ligaments in your spine, along with all the other tissues of the body. So look after your back by making sure you drink enough fluid. Water is ideal, but other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks are also useful.
Add some chopped fruit or mint to your water for flavour. Keep a bottle in sight on your desk to remind you to take regular sips. Or, even better, take regular breaks away from your desk to refill your glass!
5. See your osteopath
Just like cars, bodies benefit from regular maintenance. Defy the muscle-tightening, joint-stiffening effects of your desk and nip problems in the bud by checking in with your local osteopath .
Osteopathy looks at how your body functions as a whole, so identifying issues early can prevent ‘knock-on’ effects down the line. Treatment enhances healthy integration of the body’s systems, allowing it to function at its best. You’ll get effective treatment for neck and back ache, joint aches, repetitive strain injuries, and so much more! Looking for back pain treatment in Hong Kong?