Multiple hours spent sitting in an office chair can take a toll on your spine. The static posture most people assume while sitting at work can result in pressure on the arms, shoulders, and legs. However, the main area affected is the lower (lumbar) spine, where persistent stress may damage discs and result in pressure on nearby nerve roots, which may require a lumbar foraminotomy or another spinal procedure. Here’s what you can do to reduce pain you experience from sitting in an office chair.
Properly Adjust Your Chair
Adjust your chair to your physical proportions in a way that’s as comfortable as possible for your spine. Set your chair height so you can easily slide your fingers under the front part of your thighs at the edge of your seat, and keep these additional set-up tips in mind:
- Keep your upper arms parallel to your spine with your elbows at a 90-degree angle
- Adjust your chair so you are eye level with the center of your computer screen
- Set the armrest so your arms are slightly lifted at your shoulders to ease pressure on your upper spine
Practice Good Posture
Avoid slouching or slumping forward in your chair to minimize stress on spinal discs. When you press your bottom to the back of the chair, make sure it contours to the natural arch of your lower spine. This is why ergonomically designed chairs have an unusually shaped back. If your chair has a completely flat back, either use a support pillow or choose another chair. Also, watch your posture by:
- Shifting positions in your chair periodically
- Avoiding sideways neck tilts when using the phone
- Not sitting on the edge of your chair (throws off alignment)
Get Up and Stretch
No matter how comfortable your chair is, it’s not good to stay in it for the duration of your work day. Try to get up every few hours, even if it’s just to stretch or walk to the bathroom, break room, or water cooler. You can also do a few simple stretches from your chair, like a seated forward bend that stretches your lower back and hamstrings.
Consider Alternative Chairs
Explore some ergonomically pleasing chair designs. A Swedish kneeling chair forces the spine into proper alignment as you rest your legs and knees on the front part of it. A Swiss ball chair uses the concept of the exercise ball and adds armrests and a back. Some chairs have no back support at all, which will require you to use your supporting muscles for balance. However, if you have back problems you may want to avoid this alternative or check with your doctor before using it. If possible, consider getting a desk that adjusts from a sitting to a standing position. Get in the habit of standing for as many of your daily tasks as possible, and use your lunch time as an excuse to get out of the office. Even a 15 to 20-minute walk will benefit your spine and increase circulation. If you’d like additional tips on reducing your back pain, whether it’s at work or at home, get in touch with The Spine Institute Center. We specialize in a variety of fusion procedures and alternatives to spinal fusion surgery. Call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment and take the first steps toward a pain-free life.