Office posture: is it causing problems? (Part 1)
People are "desk-bound" more than ever before. At least, it seems that way to me. Most of the people that come through our office state that they spend at least 6 hours a day sitting! They oftentimes ask if that is why they are having back or neck problems. While that is definitely a factor in their pain symptoms, I always tell people that it's not usually one thing we do, but a combination of different things that we do in our day to day lives that can cause pain problems to occur. The "death by a thousand cuts" kind of issues that we see all the time.
That being said, the way we sit at our desks day in and day out can be a BIG factor in noticing those back/neck pain problems. We will go over some of the different postural "mistakes" that people make and how exactly those mistakes can make your back/neck pain worse.
The picture below shows what would be considered "perfect" desk posture. Let's go over some of the parts of this that can lead to lower back pain. We want to sit all the way back into a chair with our back flat against the back of the chair. This helps to maintain the normal curvature of the three parts of your spine. Many people will say they sit forward in their chair- this will decrease the normal "load-bearing" curvature of the lower back and tilt the pelvis forward. These two factors can definitely cause lower back pain.
Sticking with the lower back, let's talk about crossing your legs...more specifically, why you shouldn't sit cross-legged. Sitting cross-legged puts rotational force into the hip joint and creates an unbalancing effect in your hips. The muscles of the lower back are then stretched tight on the "low side" and loosened on the "high side." Aside from the lower back pain problems associated with sitting cross-legged, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in 2010 found that sitting cross-legged can cause a significant increase in your blood pressure.
You'll notice in the picture is says the hips should be at 90-100 degrees. That will keep the pelvis in a "neutral" position to help avoid either anterior or posterior pelvic tilting. The second picture shows the difference between a "normal" posture, and a posture affected by anterior pelvic tilt.
Stay tuned next week for a look at some of the postural "mistakes" in our upper body that can cause upper back and neck pain.
Links to more information:
Problems with sitting cross-legged: http://www.melbourneosteopathycentre.com.au/is-sitting-cross-legged-causing-you-pain/
Article on Blood Pressure while sitting cross-legged: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20500337