According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American worker spends more than three hours of the workday sitting. Specific jobs, including accountancy and auditing, involve sitting for more than 90% of the workday. Yet even those who sit the most can be unaware of the risks of unsafe sitting.
Unhealthy sitting can cause conditions including back and neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle weakness. Over time, it can damage spinal disks, cause varicose veins, and reduce circulation. As desk jobs have increased, so have injuries and ailments stemming from improper sitting.
The good news is that by making simple changes in your sitting practices, you can alleviate those symptoms. Here are five ways to practice safe sitting:
1. Check Your Angles
For the sake of your neck and eyes, position the top of your monitor level with your eye line. This simple adjustment will position your head naturally and avoid putting undue stress on the neck. Likewise, the height of your keyboard should allow your arms to fall naturally, with forearms parallel to the floor. The more comfortable your arms, the less strain you put on the muscles as you type, but it’s not just about comfort; repetitive stress can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Pick the Right Chair
Your chair should adjust to you, not you to your chair. Adjusting a chair’s height, tilt, and armrests is key to maintaining a comfortable and safe position. Also, make sure the chair provides enough lower back support, allowing you to sit up without tensing your back, and that it’s just high enough so your feet can rest flat on the floor.
3. Look Around
Whether a screen or a book, staring at something close to your face for extended periods will tire your eyes. To avoid eye strain, consider practicing the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Your eyes are controlled by muscles, which can stiffen just like any other body part.
4. Stand Up
Part of the danger of sitting cannot be mitigated by posture or equipment. Being sedentary lowers your heart rate and can hamper the free circulation of blood. While well-adjusted chairs can help promote circulation, the only real antidote is getting up and walking around periodically – ideally every 30 minutes. Poor circulation can cause varicose veins and muscle fatigue, which is why many with desk jobs go home tired despite not having exerted themselves at work.
5. Listen to Your Body
If you’re experiencing aching joints, tired eyes, and fatigue, pay attention. The workplace shouldn’t be a source of injury, so don’t let it be one. Adjust your environment to get more comfortable, and you’ll be happier and healthier.
For more information on avoiding chronic pain, connect with us on social media or call your local PPOA clinic.