Health and Wellness >> Staying Fit While You Sit
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The average worker, whether it be a secretary or receptionist, a computer technician, or an airline pilot, spends approximately 8 to 10 hours a day sitting. They sit at work, they sit in the car on their way to and from their job, they sit at home at the dinner table, and they sit in the evening watching T.V. Sitting for long hours, at home or at work, may be hazardous to your health!
The good news is, no matter how much you sit, proper posture and an ergonomically sound environment can reduce the risk of serious health problems caused by so much sitting.
Ergonomics is scientific engineering of an object or environment intended to maximize productivity, while minimizing fatigue and discomfort. Anything from the pen that you write with, to the office that you work in, can be ergonomically designed to meet this definition.
When discussing ergonomics and health, there are four areas of your body that are of primary concerns.
Proper ergonomics and posture are necessary to prevent potential health problems like:
Other problems that improper ergonomics, particularly in the workplace, can cause are:
Now let’s take a look at how we can improve your health by reducing the stress caused by sitting all day. First, let’s look at your back. Your back assumes its normal posture based on the shape of the spine. The spine normally has four curves in it. The bones of the spine are called vertebra. They are separated by spongy pads called discs. In between the vertebra exit the spinal nerves that control the function of every muscle and organ in the body.
Poor posture can alter the natural curves of your spine and cause damage to your discs and nerves. When sitting, it is important to maintain the normal curve of your spine, which creates good posture. A good chair will support the lower back, and help maintain the proper curves of the spine. A bad chair can be made into a good chair with a proper back rest. These can be purchased through different ergonomic stores such as a Chiropractor’s Office, a Orthopedic Supply Store or other Big Box Stores.
The next area to consider is the position of your legs. When sitting, your legs should always be slightly bent. This relieves pressure on the lower back. It also relaxes the back muscles and takes the pressure off of the nerves that go from the back, down the legs. The rules also apply to when you are driving. Your seat should be positioned so that your legs are slightly bent when your feet are on the pedals.
Now let’s take a look at your hands. The average typist types 60 words per minute for six hours a day. That is the equivalent of pressing 27 tons a day – with your fingers! Damage to your hands and wrists can also be caused by activities outside of the work environment, such as knitting, crocheting, baseball or bowling. Something as simple as resting your head on your hand while watching TV can cause over-extension of the wrist. Repetitive motions of the hand and wrist can result in a painful pinched nerve in the wrist, known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These problems can be prevented by simple hand and wrist exercises done every two hours, which we will cover later.
Having to look up or look down on a repetitive basis can cause your injury to your neck. This can cause disc and nerve damage, which can result in headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and fatigue.
Here are some very important rules to follow at work or at home:
If you work at a computer or keyboard all day, the way your work area is set up may be affecting your health. Most work areas are built based on a standard that was designed to be “universal.” Unfortunately, not all of us fit that standard.
Here are some specifications that you can use to optimize your work area:
Stand facing your chair.
If you follow these guidelines, you will greatly reduce the amount of physical stress that you put on your body while at work.
Here are some stretches that you can do at work or at home to help you stay relaxed and healthy:
These stretches are for your hands and wrists:
Your Medical Doctor will not have a lot of advice for you because they spend their time treating patients. They do not spend a lot of time evaluating ergonomics. They may recommend Physical Therapy where you may learn some times about staying fit while you sit, but there is not guarantee.
We are now going to have you do several tests to determine the need for preventative treatment for spinal, muscular or neurological problems.
If you failed any of these tests, or suffer from two or more of the symptoms, it may indicate that you have a physical problem.
Medicines Two Choices for You
Recent studies have shown that a “hands-on” approach to neck (and back) pain may be more effective than traditional therapy or medical care. A study published in the Annals of Internal medicine compared Chiropractic, physical therapy and medical care for the effectiveness in improving mobility and reducing neck pain. After seven weeks of treatment, 68.3 % of the Chiropractic patients reported that they were “significantly or completely recovered,” compared with only 50.8 % of the physical therapy group, and 35.9 % of the patients under physician’s care.
Another study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found Chiropractic was not only more effective for treating neck pain than the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, but also safer. “The evidence indicated that NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) use poses a significantly greater risk of complications that that of Chiropractic adjustments by several hundred times.”
An international study, commissioned by the Onterio Minestry of Health, concluded that “Spinal manipulation by chiropractors is more effective, safer and more cost-effective than other treatments for low-back pain.” The report’s principle researcher says, “Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate.”
Because chiropractors work with their hands and are trained to find and correct physical conditions through a form of physical treatment, they are used by some of the world’s greatest athletes and entertainers. Famous people such as Tiger Woods, Paul McCartney, Clint Eastwood, Billy Jean King, Bruce Willis, Madonna, Cher, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, John Stockton, and the Minnesota Vikings, to name a few, seek regular Chiropractic treatment to prevent injuries and to stay in top physical shape.
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Dr. Richard A. Huntoon