Remember when your mom always told you to sit up straight and stop slouching? Well she was right! The average person spends approximately 8 hours a day sitting. This includes sitting at work, in the car/bus, and at home. That’s a lot of time on our butts with our muscles and joints not doing much (except for our brain). Studies show when seated, pressure to your low back increases to 150% and sitting when slouching increases up to 180%. With all of that in mind, we need to be very aware of how we position ourselves and whether or not we have the right chair. 80% of people will eventually experience low back pain at some point in their life. To protect your back and prevent pain, it is important to keep your spine in a neutral position. This position puts the least amount of stress through your spine.
To find spine neutral:
-sit with your feet on the ground
-try to keep your knees at the same level of slightly lower than your hips
-find a comfortable position with pressure right through your sit bones, neither slumped or too straight, but in the middle.
-draw your shoulder blades back and down
-adjust your chair to keep you supported in this position, use low back support as needed (towel, pillow, sweater)
-avoid crossing your legs
To sit back or reclined:
-maintain your neutral position and open up at your hips by leaning backward
-use pillows or towel rolls to keep your back supported
It is also important to take micro-breaks when sitting every 30 minutes.
Hints to make sure you are taking breaks…
-move the printer farther away from your desk and get up frequently to retrieve copies
-drink more water, you also end up making more trips to the restroom.
-computer software that reminds you to take a break
-set up a kitchen timer to go off when needed
Things to look for in a good chair:
-make sure the seat in your chair can adjust up and down so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees
– when supported by the back of your chair, make sure that the back of your knees do not touch the seat
-make sure that your chair is not too wide or narrow.
-your chair should have good lumbar support.
-with arm support, your elbows should be about 90 degrees
Best way to find the right chair is TRY them out yourself, many stores have a good return policy if it doesn’t work out.
You can also ask your employer for a workstation ergonomic evaluation. When all else fails, remember what your Mom said: “Sit up straight!”