Is Your Office Seat Killing You?

Worker suffering from lower back pain
Worker suffering from lower back pain
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If you have been in the office environment it’s not uncommon to hear employees complaining of back or neck pains. Some complain about pain to the underside and tops of their thighs or their legs suffer some numbness and feel heavy and dead.

The reality of working in an office is that you will spend most of your time seated behind your computer. This makes you sedentary for a good part of your working day.This could be deadly, and, for lifelong office workers, just as difficult to quit as a substance addict.

Understanding the cause of this sedentary life could go a long way in dealing with the problem.

The prevalent complaint from desk workers is a sore back and neck – all because of the way we sit. In our ­natural state, our spines are curved in a subtle S-shape. When we sit, our back takes one of two positions: a C-shape, more commonly known as slouching, or a flat back with no curve, the result of overcompensating.

Most of us find it difficult to hold perfect posture and we slump down without much thought. This stretches ligaments and muscles in the lower back and causes the head to shift forward, putting extra stress on the neck.

Injury can be gradual, as your back becomes stiffer and you lose some range of motion by the end of each workday. Or it can be sudden, like if you exert yourself without giving your body time to adapt. That’s why simply lifting a heavy box can mean a slipped disk.

The Perfect Posture
It’s important to make sure you have your seat set at the right height, because when it’s wrong it places a lot of unnecessary pressure on the legs.

Take note that it is not safe to work at your computer or desk while sited on a fixed chair like a dining or meeting room chair. Even if the height is right this sort of chair restricts your body movement and can cause other pain and discomfort problems.

Adjusting to The Right Height
Remove you shoes and stand with your knees facing the chair seat. Align the seat height with your knee caps. From there sit on your chair making sure your feet are resting squarely on the floor. Then, fine tune the height so that the angle between your body and thighs is open at around 110° or more. This will reduce the constriction on your upper leg muscles and allow good blood circulation.

For the Tall or Short Individuals
Most average built people should be able to get their seat set to the right height. However for short or tall people things may not be so simple.

Typically short built people find the seat won’t go low enough to let them rest their feet squarely on the floor. In fact they may not be able to rest their feet on the floor at all.

The tall users may find the angle between body and thighs is very tight as they are forced to sit with knees pointing up in the air.

For the two categories, start by measuring from floor to knee cap and make sure that dimension is covered by the alternative strut’s height range.

This should take of things.

When the Pain Persists
Where pain still persists there may be other causes like incorrect seat depth for your leg length or cheap seat foams which have degraded and flattened.

In such a case the only viable alternative would be to get a new fitting chair.

To support the above adjustments, it will be important to include physical breaks in our work schedule. At least take 30-90 seconds walk break around the office after every 1-2 hours of sitting. This will prolong your body’s ability to work on the desk.

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