Your spine is a very important element to your overall health. It contains 33 vertebrae and 23 discs. The vertebrae house a very important part of your nervous system, the spinal cord, which the nerves stem from and go to every muscle, organ, tissue, and cell in the body. When the spine is damaged, it puts pressure on the nervous system and causes many health issues. Let me demonstrate why you should protect your spine…
Think of your spinal cord like a power line: it sends power to each home, office, and building to which it travels. When a tree falls on that power line, there are brown-outs and power outages at each location to which that line travels. Just as the energy company rushes to fix this interference, you must also have the same sense of urgency to protect your spine. We must make sure there’s no “tree” or damage to our power line. It is of the utmost importance that you protect your spine and spinal cord to remain upright and healthy.
Today, approximately 80% of Americans have sedentary jobs that require little to no physical activity. This is a drastic change from the 1960s, when 50% of the workforce had jobs requiring moderate physical exercise. With all of this extra “sitting around” at our desks, most complain of back pain due to the stress of sitting. Below are five ways to protect your spine while sitting.
Protect Your Spine
#1: A desk chair with full back support
If you are sitting in a chair all day, then make sure it is a chair that properly supports your spinal curves. Lumbar support is essential. Proper low-back support helps take some of the effort out of good posture, as it forces you to sit up straight.
I like to have a chair that has adjustable arm rests, back support on height, so that I can sit up straight and make the chair work for me. Here is the chair that I personally use: http://www.keilhauer.com/products/sguig.html
If you are in an office and are stuck with the chair you have, then experiment with lumbar support cushions or pillows to support your lumbar spine.
#2: Properly place the monitor
If you are to sit up straight and look directly in front of you at your desk, that is where you should find your monitor. Many people are looking down at their computers, and it is putting and immense amount of stress on their lower neck, driving the degenerative process. Many, many people with desk jobs suffer from lower neck pain. My favorite way to lift my laptop to a higher position is by using this Furinno stand. For a monitor, I like this monitor arm to raise the monitor up off the desk to eye level.
#3: Are you leaning?
Did your teacher, mother, or father ever tell you to sit up straight? Sitting up straight will protect your spine. If you are leaning, you are putting an abnormal amount of weight on your discs in your spine. So sit up with your ears over your shoulders, with your shoulders back, and if you feel the need to lean forward, bring your chair in or bring your computer closer to your face. Or maybe it’s time to get your eyes checked 🙂
#4: Upgrade to a standing desk
Human beings were not designed to sit all day at a desk chair. Our ancestors were either hunting or forging for food, but rarely sitting. I’m a huge fan of standing desks because it allows us to be productive while working in an excellent posture. It also increases blood flow and burns more calories, all while helping to banish the pain associated with poor sitting posture.
You can quickly make one yourself by stacking a side table on your work desk. If you’re crafty, you can easily make one yourself. If you prefer to splurge, then I’d suggest you buy one like this one.
#5: Position your keyboard properly
If you’re at your computer, stop what you’re doing and look down. Most people have their elbows pointing down and their wrists tilted up at their keyboard. This is why people who spend hours at a computer a day often end up with carpal tunnel. Your wrists are strongest and most resistant to injury when they are straight.
Your keyboard should be directly above your lap. When you type, there should be a 90-degree angle at your elbow and your wrists should be straight. Adjust your keyboard to be at the appropriate level. When using a laptop stand, I plug in a keyboard to my MAC and put the keyboard at the appropriate level, and I recommend you do the same.
Follow these guidelines to help protect your spine. To relieve back pain that has come out of bad habits, read this article!