Desk Job? How to combat the effects of sitting for long periods

With a whopping 50% (Safe Work Australia) of the workforce sitting at a desk at least some of the time, it’s no wonder people come into our practice complaining of a sore neck and back, chronic fatigue and a whole array of issues associated with sitting. At Wellspring Chiropractic, we are all too familiar with treating individuals with these problems. We’re becoming a world of “sitters” and it’s having huge implications on our health and wellbeing. Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for several health problems including:

-Musculoskeletal disorders
-Cardiovascular diseases
-Diabetes
-Obesity
-Poor mental health

Since most of us can’t up and quit our jobs, it’s all about finding solutions to work within the office framework. Fear not, you can combat the effects of sitting for long periods with mild to moderate lifestyle changes. Below are some tried and true solutions you can implement that can make a huge difference for your spinal health, and in turn, your complete wellbeing.

Let’s start with some practical solutions that you can put into practice right away.

1. Go for more walks.

Whether you have to schedule them in or set reminders, you should be getting up and moving around at least every hour. If you’ve got a big workload that day, see if you can incorporate more of your tasks while moving around. Big strategy to plan? Do it on a walk around your office’s block. Studies show light physical activity can also aid creativity. Some of the most successful CEOs have even introduced walking meetings with their staff to boost critical thinking.

2. Exercise at lunch.

One of the best things you can do is break up your day with half an hour of exercise. Bring a pair of joggers to work and keep them at your desk, so you’re always prepared. Even better, bring along a co-worker who looks stressed! Many companies are beginning to implement gyms and exercise classes for employees to increase happiness. These measures are great for the body, as well as the mind.

3. Invest in a stand-up desk.

Can’t pull yourself away from the screen this week? Ask your company for a stand-up desk. Stand-up desks are more commonplace and cost-effective than ever before. They can be a life-saver on full workload days, plus, they’ll make you look like an over-achiever!

Now that we’ve covered some simple solutions you can implement right away, here are some longer-term solutions to chronic sitting.

Strength Exercises and Yoga

As we mentioned above, moving the body regularly is one of the main ways to combat the effects of sitting. We rely heavily on the lumbar and thoracic areas of the spine to stay engaged while sitting to keep us upright. Many of us do not have the proper posture when sitting, which leads to aches and pains and for some, may eventually lead to spinal misalignments. One of the best activities we recommend to our patients who sit for long periods is exercise with a specific focus on improving posture, strengthening the back and core muscles, and alleviating pressure on the spine that we build up throughout the day.

Two areas where people feel great improvement is strength training and yoga or pilates. Under the guidance of qualified instructors, starting a strength training routine is imperative not only for our muscle tone but also for improving bone health. Strength training is one of the single best things we can do for our bodies as we age. Yoga and pilates are also great for building strength, and they combine flexibility and breathing exercises to combat the stress and anxiety that we can also hold physically. 

A great yogic posture (seriously, do it right now if your back is aching as you read this) is called “Uttanasana” or standing forward fold. Here’s how to do it step-by-step

Regular Chiropractic Visits

Finally, many people do need a little more help, and that’s where we come in. After years of sitting in a desk or chronic inactivity, professional help is recommended so we can determine a tailored solution based on your current lifestyle. Or perhaps you suffered an injury a while ago which changed your activity level, and you want to get back to feeling yourself. Whether your problems from sitting are old or new, regular chiropractic visits can vastly improve your quality of life. 

Spinal health is vital, yet it can often become a low priority when life’s other stresses get in the way. Hopefully, you can start implementing some of our suggestions into your routine to improve any issues you’re having. Better still, if you’re not yet having these issues, but sit at a desk for most of the day, start them now to avoid future problems. Of course, if you need a check-up or just a little more guidance, we’re always here to help. 

To book an appointment with Dr Scott please call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.

By: Dr. Scott Walton (BSc. DC) Chiropractor, Wellspring Chiropractic at North Lakes, Brisbane.