Taking Care of Your Spine: At Work
By Megan A. Tuzzo, DC
We spend a large portion of our lives at work. Whether your job requires sitting, standing, or moving around, it’s important to incorporate good ergonomic practice into your workday. Proper ergonomics lead to good spinal health, and the proper work station can create a more comfortable and productive work environment.
Here’s a few tips and tricks to keep your workstation spine-friendly.
Seated Desk Ergonomics
The first issue that I like to tackle with seated employees is the height of their computer screen. Your eyes should be perpendicular to your monitor, meaning that your line of sight should be right in the middle of your screen. If you are looking down at your monitor all day, you are at risk of reducing or possibly reversing the curve in your neck. This can lead to spinal degeneration, headaches, and neck pain. You should be able to see your monitor when you are looking straight ahead, not down. This might mean putting your computer on top of a stack of paper or books.
Raise or lower your chair so that your elbows and forearms are resting on your desk, with your elbows at a 90 degree angle. This reduces stress your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
Keep your lower back supported. Adding a good lumbar support can make an old chair feel brand new, and can help prevent lower back pain. At GRC we sell lumbar supports that match the curve of your lower back, providing comfort and stability during the work day.
Feet should be flat on the ground. Crossing your legs can lead to sacroiliac joint dysfunction and lower back pain.
Most importantly - Get up and MOVE throughout the day. Grab a drink of water, a snack, or visit a co-worker! No matter how ergonomically friendly your work station is, it’s important to get up and move throughout the day. Movement can lead to increased blood flow to muscles, which will decrease muscle stiffness.
Standing Desk Ergonomics
Standing desks are an innovative alternative to the seated desk. Reducing the time that you are sitting throughout the day promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. Standing desk ergonomics are still very important, and a lot of same rules apply to standing desk as they do to seated.
Keep your eyes perpendicular to your computer screen, and keep your elbows and forearms supported on your desk (elbows bent 90 degrees) as you would in a stated desk. Keep in mind - if you move, your computer might have to move too. Optimal positioning for your computer when sitting may not be the same when you stand. Adjust your screen accordingly.
Make sure that you are standing with your feet shoulder width apart, being careful not to put too much weight on either foot.
Avoid locking your knees, as this can put extra stress on your knees and lower back. A floor mat can help keep your feet and knees comfortable, and prevent lower back fatigue.
Transitioning from a seated to a standing desk?
Congratulations! You are taking an important step towards improving your physical health. I recommend alternating each hour between sitting and standing to get yourself used to the new positioning and gradually increasing the time that you are standing as time goes on and your body adjusts to the new position. Did you know standing desk may boost productivity? Standing up can help keep you alert and focused during the work day.
As chiropractors, we examine and analyze the joints of your spine that aren’t moving as well as they should. When you spend all day in one position, your joints are more likely to become stiff. Stiff, immovable joints can lead to other serious health problems. Stop into Greater Rochester Chiropractic today for personalized ergonomic tips for your work station, as well as ways to stay active throughout the day to keep your spine healthy! - MAT
Dr. Megan A. Tuzzo is the newest doctor at Greater Rochester Chiropractic. She takes pride in providing chiropractic care to those in all stages of life. She is a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the Rochester Women’s Network.