Is Your Workplace Working for Your Spine?
If you’re like most of us then the chances are regardless of what you do during the day, you are almost certain to spend a chunk of it at a computer. Whether it’s in the office, on the kitchen bench, studying at your desk or just surfing on the couch it’s hard to imagine where we would be without the World Wide Web and just how dependent we’ve all become on electronics of some sort.
It’s been less than two decades since the Internet took off and nothing prepared us for how it would impact our bodies. The average Australian spends only 1 hour and 13 minutes a day not sitting! The scary thing is that this is the average. Some poor people must be incredibly stuck to their chairs to achieve a number as low as this. Poor posture is a ticking time bomb that may not only impact you now but will also affect you in years to come.
So what can you do to survive, and maybe even flourish in your “office” environment?
Here are 9 simple office hacks that you can include to beat the bomb.
- Drink More Water. Especially in the winter months as air conditioning will rob you of body fluids and your thirst urge may be less. That dry skin experienced in winter may be better dealt with by hydrating from the inside out rather than relying on moisturisers from the outside. You’ll feel better and perform better when you are well hydrated. Try a water bottle with times marked on the side. ( eg. A “Michelle Bridges” bottle) This is a great way to steadily maintain your input rather than attempting to binge hydrate.
- Raise the height of your screen! The recommended height is too low. That’s where you look to the top of the screen at eye level with the centre about 30 degrees below horizontal. If you start the day looking down to the centre of your screen what do you think will happen by the need of the day when you are tired and have been sitting for several hours? In fact, if you can get that screen up a bit, it may even become a postural therapeutic device rather than a necessary evil!
- Move as much as you can. There are dozens of different ways to increase your movement. Go to the printer. Get water refills. Park the car a little further from work. Have a walk at lunchtime -even if it’s just out into the sunshine for a few minutes. Spinal movement is one of the key inputs to the brain that boosts brain activity. The more you move the more alive you’ll feel.
- Try to vary the tasks that you do during the day. If you’re like me you probably have a list as long as your arm of things to do. See if you can break up the seated tasks with one that requires a bit more movement. Remember variety is the spice of life!
- The 90/90 rule. Everything needs to be set up around your desk-the least changeable item in the office. Set your chair height so that your elbows are at 90 degrees and your hands are poised at the keyboard. Your knees should be at 90 degrees too. It’s very likely that they are not right now so see below. Remember Knees 90, elbows 90.
- Get yourself a Footrest. Unless you are 6ft tall in the old money then the chances are to get your body position right at a desk, you’re going to need a footrest. It’s the most neglected area of a workstation setup.
- Get a remote keyboard or laptop stand for your laptop. They were never designed for long-term use and certainly using them on your lap is a big mistake. However they are portable, powerful and convenient. So the best solution to using a laptop every day is to get laptop stand or a separate Bluetooth or USB keyboard. Put the laptop up on top of something on your desk and then use the other keyboard on the desk below. This way the screen gets to a useable height and the keyboard is in the right position.
- Install or Program a Movement Reminder. There are lots of different ways to do this. From watches and phones to tiny programs you can install on your computer that you can set to pop up and remind you to leave the desk. Most people are amazed when they track just how easy it is to sit with poor posture at a computer for hours without noticing. Try this one from the Chiropractors Association of Australia.
- Standing desks. All the rage at the moment and not just something trendy. There is much less pressure on your spine when you are standing vs sitting so these can be a great option. However the key is how you use it. So watch your posture when you are standing and try to get the screen height and keyboard position right when standing
Complimentary Virtual Workplace Assessment
As a gift to our current patients throughout the month of September Dr Andrew will be offering complimentary Virtual Workplace Assessments, usually worth $120. Just email us a pic (like the one above) of your current computer set up and Andrew will give you some tailored advice on how to improve your posture while you work, whether that’s in the office or at home.
Your quality of life can be influenced for years by your office setup and therefore posture. It’s worth taking the time to set yourself up for success.
Remember, “Sitting for the spine is like sugar for the teeth”.
For further information contact us here at Fairlight Chiropractic or attend one of our in-house events. Let us help you to create good habits. Dr Andrew is available for corporate talks and assessments as well as health and productivity programs for your business. Call us today for details.
Dr. Andrew Iggo is in private practice in Sydney, Australia. Working from state of the art premises in Fairlight, his focus is on providing not only relief from pain, but correction of function and the provision of wellness care for families and individuals. With a young family of his own comes a natural inclination toward the care of kids and Mums-to-be. A strong sports and dance background also give him a unique perspective on performance enhancement and injury recovery. We are sure you’ll be in great hands.