Sitting at the desk for long periods of time can take its toll on your body, especially when it’s so tricky to remain posture perfect. Here are five key tips on how to improve your posture, strengthen core muscles and make yourself as comfortable in your work station as possible.
1. Posture perfect. Sitting in the same position for extended periods of time can put a strain on the supporting muscles and discs, especially if you’re slouching or hunching without realising. If left unattended it can lead to damage of the spinal structure and muscle strain.
To combat this make sure you are properly seated, ensuring the majority of your back is pushed back against the chair and keeping the shoulders and back as straightas possible. Try to keep your elbow joints at a ninety degree angle, sitting close enough to the desk to comfortably rest the forearms. Adjust the chair to suit your personal height, ensuring your feet are able to firmly rest on the floor. If not, ask your employer for a foot rest to avoid risk of back strain. If you frequently use a VDU, investing in a padded mouse pad will ease any wrist strain and adjusting your seat until your natural eye line falls within the centre of the screen will avoid neckpain.
2. Muscle food. Doses of magnesium can help prevent neck and back strain from happening in the first place. Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency can be body tension, back aches, muscle cramps, tics or spasms. If this sounds familiar,magnesium can help the muscles to function properly, aiding in the correct musclecontraction and relaxation.
Vitamin D works alongside this to help reduce risk of arthritis caused by performingthe same movements again and again, which is often the case when hours are spent at the desk. To get your daily intake try adding oily fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel to your lunch, or even starting the day with vitamin D fortified breakfast cereals.
3. Avoid stress. Try to avoid allowing your body to be overcome by too much stress as this can cause muscle tension. We all have our own methods of relaxation, be it reading, taking a bath or listening to music. Doing what works best for you everyonce in a while will ease any muscle tension and help relieve back and neck pain.
A massage can work wonder for the muscles, working out the knots and relaxing the body. Try speaking to your physician about massage therapy or even requesting the odd massage from your partner.
4. Take a break. Taking regular breaks from the desk is something we can often forget to make time for. This is particularly important for the self-employed working fromhome, as it is often easy to work over any scheduled breaks.
Whenever possible, walk around, stretch out your muscles. Regular 5 minute breaks may not seem like much, but can ease the strain remaining seated for long periods of time can place on the neck and back muscles. Moving away from the VDU can also significantly boost the circulation to help prevent the risk of deep vein thrombosis and headaches.
5. Strengthen key muscles. Strengthening your back and neck muscles can often prevent sprains and strains occurring in the first place by increasing your body’s internal support. A great strengthening exercise is to lay face down, placing yourhands palms down at either side of your shoulders. Slowly lift your head from the floor, hold for a few seconds, before lowering the head back down. Try not to rock the head upwards using momentum and don’t over exert the neck. Experimenting with core muscle strengthening forms of exercise like yoga and fitness ball workouts can improve the key muscles crucial for maintaining good posture.
It is your employer’s duty to make sure your work place meets the safety requirements as laid out by the government body HSE health and safety regulations.If you feel your work station doesn’t meet up to the standards for any reason, it pays to suggest this to your employer.