The jury’s in. Sitting can have a heavy impact on the health of your spine. It can even lead to spinal compression.
The trick is to sit properly. Not only that, but using ergonomic aids can help you achieve a spine-smart sitting posture.
In this post, we’ll talk about sitting and spinal compression and how you can take the heat off your spine with some simple tweaks on your part.
Why does sitting for long periods cause spinal compression? Because your back is working overtime, even if you’re not aware of it. It’s supporting the upper half of your body and if you’re slouching or slumping, your back is suffering.
The whole top half of our body is resting on your lumbar spine. That’s a lot of weight!
The way you sit can determine whether discs are being compressed and you may not know that’s happening until there’s already a problem.
Because we’re in a stationary position, we tend to think of our backs as inert while we’re sitting, but the truth is it’s under a lot of pressure and that pressure can cause us a lot of problems if we don’t adjust our posture.
Ergonomics – your spine’s friend.
Ergonomics is the study of how our bodies are used, examining which supportive technologies can eliminate various stresses on them.
For seated postures, ergonomically informed design steps in to provide information about ideal posture and how to achieve it. It also spurs the production of supports designed to help you sit in a way which doesn’t damage your spine.
Special seating is one gift that ergonomics have given people who sit at work. Chairs which promote a neutral spine position by aligning the body in a suitable posture (the Swedish kneeling chair), are becoming increasingly popular. Many people use large exercise balls to achieve a better posture, while strengthening their cores to support the spine.
But ergonomics also has some excellent advice for improving seated posture.
Sit for spine health.
Both your feet should be flat on the floor. Crossing your ankles, or legs, slouching and other postures which cause your feet not to be on the floor are habits you need to break.
Your knees should be at the same height, or a little higher than your hips, if possible and your buttocks should be against the back of the chair (no “perching”).
Forearms should be parallel with the floor and wrists should not be arched up (a posture error which promotes carpal tunnel syndrome.)
Holding the abdominal muscles in is also helpful, as well as monitoring your shoulder position and the position of your head. You should be in a neutral, erect posture. When looking at a computer screen, your eyes should be aligned at the approximate center of the screen.
This post is about promoting ideal sitting hygiene. Habits years in the making can be difficult to break. For the sake of your spine, those habits are worth breaking, as there’s a proven link between sitting and spinal compression.
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