Most of you are probably reading this from an office chair. That forward leaning posture you’re likely sitting in is actually really awful for you and presents consequences for more than just the back and spinal column. When the front body is compressed from hunching over for long periods of time, the internal organs, digestive system and lungs become burdened. At Nebraska Spine Hospital, we’re all about preserving your quality of life, which includes your worklife. And as such, we want to offer up some pretty simple solutions to your office chair woes.
Office Chair Stretching
In order to create renewed tissue circulation and joint mobility and to open up the front of the body, stretch breaks at your desk are absolutely necessary. There is one stretch in particular, the Reverse Arch Stretch, that is specifically designed to do just that. This stretch will quickly counteract any negative spinal, shoulder, wrist and organ system effects that hunching forward in your chair may cause.
Here’s how you do it:
Sit on the very edge of your chair, reach your hands behind you and hold on to the back of the chair. Press your chest forward, arching your spine and if it feels comfortable, let your head fall back slightly to open through the front of the neck.
Continue to breathe, feeling the front of your body open up as you extend backward. Hold this position for 30 seconds, or as long as you want.
Slowly lift your head up, straighten your spine, and then let go of the chair.
With any stretch, it is important to take your time and listen to your body while doing it. Over time, you may be able to get deeper into this stretch; extending back even further with little effort.
Choosing the Right Office Chair
There’s really no way to get around sitting in a chair if you work in an office. However, to avoid developing or compounding back problems, it’s important to opt for an ergonomic office chair. These chairs support your lower back and promote good posture.
No one type of ergonomic office chair is the best, but it is important to look for things that will allow you to make the chair work for your needs. You should look for things like:
Seat height: look for a seat that ranges anywhere from 16-21 inches from the floor. The important thing is that your feet are flat on the ground and your arms even with the height of the desk.
Seat width and depth: the standard,17-20 inches in depth, will allow any user to sit comfortably in a chair. A good rule of thumb is that when your back is up against the backrest of the chair, you still have about 2-4 inches between the chair and the back of the knees. The forward or backward tilt of the chair should be adjustable.
Lumbar Support: because the lumbar spine has an inward curve, sitting for a long time without support for this curve can cause slouching and strains the structures in the lower back. The ergonomic chair you choose should have a lumbar adjustment, for both height and depth.
Backrest: you should opt for a chair with a backrest that is 12-19 inches wide. Again, look for a chair that provides good lumbar support, providing proper support for the natural curve of your spine.
If you are experiencing any back pain or discomfort and would like to talk to a nurse navigator or one of our board certified and fellowship trained Orthopaedic Spine Surgeons about your symptoms, do not hesitate to call us at 402-415-2332 or you can schedule an appointment online.