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If you work in an office based small business then you probably spend more time at your desk than anywhere else. Many of us spend most of our working day in front of a computer, and then drive home to sit down, watching TV or using our own computers. But have you ever thought about what sitting for long periods is doing to your body?
It’s estimated that 583,000 people in Great Britain suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder that was caused or made worse by work. The problem with sitting so much is that you place two thirds of your body weight on a tiny point at the base of your spine, and this takes its toll on your back.
Taking your time to improve your posture and make sure your work station is correctly set up can help you to avoid pain in your lower back, neck and shoulders, and get more out of your day.
First make a list of the things you do most often at your desk. Then think of ways to make doing them more comfortable. For example, if you do a lot of typing, you might need to use a document holder to read from – it’s much better for your posture than placing paper in front of a keyboard.
Clearing away clutter will give you more space and let you organise the things you need better. Don’t forget to look underneath your desk to make sure there aren’t any loose cables or drawer towers that get in your way or make you sit at an angle.
Make sure you sit as close to your desk as you can with your forearms resting on your desk. Adjust your chair so that your arms are horizontal when you touch the keyboard and your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your elbows by the side of your body so your arms form an L shape.
Most office chairs now have back support built-in but if yours doesn’t, ask whether a replacement is possible or use a lumbar roll at the small of your back. Your back should make a slight ‘S’ shape, touching the back of the chair but not leaning against it.
Short breaks away from your desk every now and then will not only relieve any fatigue you’re feeling, they’ll also help to prevent stresses building up in your muscles and spine.
“The human body simply isn’t built to sit for long periods of time, so get up and move around as often as you can” says Jan Vickery, Lead Physiotherapist at AXA PPP healthcare. “Try to get up for at least 30 seconds every 30 minutes.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive
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