Office Ergonomics and Posture Correction

As a chiropractor, many of the problems I deal with on a day-to-day basis have to do with (drum roll please) BACK PAIN!

Cervical Spine by Bruce Blaus, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Back pain is the warning signal our bodies give us when we’re on the brink of causing damage to them. Back pain is one of the most common causes of lost time at work. In fact, low back pain affects 85% of the working population. I truly can’t even begin to tell you how often I see someone who works at a desk point to the area of their back between their shoulder blades and describe that dull ache that worsens over the course of the day, or tell me that they can’t seem to get comfortable while sitting at their desk chair.

What I want to do today is provide you with some education on why this occurs and how to stop it. 

Your back’s job is to provide your body with the proper combination of stability and mobility. Your back has four natural curves: lordotic curves in your neck and lower back, and kyphotic curves in your middle back and tailbone. 

Mind you, if you look around you on any given day, the 21st century human back contains all types of variations on that theme. The office worker, for example, often has an increase in their kyphotic curve in their mid-back, with a jutting chin and rounding of the shoulders. This posture is so common that it actually has a name, “upper crossed syndrome”. 

The problem with our bodies is that they don’t last forever. When we’re performing activities we were not necessarily built for, activities that put extra strain on some parts of our back versus others, we wind up wearing those parts out more quickly. This is the effect poor posture has on our spines. It places more force through certain areas, causing them to wear out or degenerate more quickly.

As a chiropractor, I can do the following to help correct upper crossed syndrome:

  • Provide soft tissue therapy (like massage but deeper and more specific) to the muscles on either side of your spine in your upper back and neck, and across your shoulders. 
  • Check your spine for joints that are fixated, or “stuck”, and provide adjustments to those areas to restore motion to them.
  • Assess your muscle structure, checking for tight areas and weak areas, and provide you with specific stretches and exercises to correct your posture!

More importantly, what can you do to change your office ergonomics and improve your posture? Well, it’s more about what you can stop doing.

  1. Stop leaning forward over your desk all day to reach your work.
  2. Stop sitting for long periods of time – get up and move.
  3. Stop sitting on the floor.
  4. Stop cradling your phone in your neck.

While these things all seem like obvious behaviors to avoid, many office workers do them quite regularly when they aren’t thinking about it. So now that you’re thinking about it, change those bad habits and make your body last! 

 

This guest post was provided by Dr. Katie Sellars: Dr. Sellars specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions and disorders relating to the skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems. She operates a wellness clinic in Kitchener, Ontario.


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