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Sitting Down on the Job

It’s easy to see how heavy lifting and physical labor can contribute to back pain and other spinal problems. Yet, millions of us sit at our jobs and can suffer similar kinds of back problems. If you’re one of those who uses a computer, a mouse or other work that involves long periods of sitting, here are some tips:

Sitting on the job

Your chair— In the same way you adjust your car seat, mirror and steering wheel to suit your size and shape, make sure the chair you sit in all day fits you. The key issue is support. Use a chair that offers lumbar support (just above your hips). This helps reduce the likelihood of slumping forward and stressing the muscles and ligaments of your lower back.

Your work surface— The height of your chair depends on the height of your work surface. If you do a lot of work with a telephone, mouse or calculator, you want the ability of your forearm and elbows to rest on your work surface. If you type or use a computer keyboard, it is best if your upper arm and forearm form a 75- to 90-degree angle.

Your telephone— One of the most overlooked causes of neck problems is cradling a telephone handset between your shoulder and your ear. This position can stress muscles and soft tissues in the neck and shoulder. Nerve supply to your head and even your hands can be affected. If your tasks frequently require you to be on the phone while using both hands, get a headset.

Your computer screen— If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, make sure it is located properly. A common problem is positioning the screen too low, forcing you to compromise the curve in your neck by looking down. Those who wear bifocal lenses often suffer the opposite problem, constantly looking up to bring the screen into focus.

Your feet— Surprisingly, one of the ways to reduce the stress of sitting on the job is how you use your feet. Many people find it helpful to use a short stool or block to raise their foot about four to six inches off the ground. Switch feet during the course of your day to reduce pressure on your lumbar spine.

Few people realize how stressful sitting can be. If you sit most of the day, organize your workspace to reduce stress to your spine. And have your spine checked regularly to prevent little problems from becoming serious.

Find a qualified, caring member of our Association in your area and give them a call to begin care!

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