The spine provides support to our bodies, but its purpose is so much more than just giving us the ability to walk, run and stand. The spine also exists to protect our fragile spinal cords, which are in charge of transmitting signals to the brain and body and responsible for blood circulation and nutrients flow.
This unique series of bones, called the vertebra, are connected and control movement in our bodies and with muscles and bones, such as the neck and back linked closely with the spine, an unhealthy set of vertebra can affect the rest of your body drastically.
Our spines, even though flexible, were not built to remain in a constant curved position, which we maintain so often in our everyday lives. A prolonged curve in the spine can not only restrict the spinal cord, thereby, limiting bodily processes, but it can also result in muscular pain in areas such as the back and neck.
Further, prolonged curved spines can also result in other problems such as, fatigue, irritability, cancer, diabetes, lack of productivity, musculoskeletal disorders and general muscle and joint pain.
A healthy spine has somewhat of an ‘S’ shape to it, protruding out at the lumbar muscles, dipping in in the middle of the back and coming out again at the top. Does your spine feel like this?
With our ever-growing technology focused world, we have become reliant on computers and consequently, desk jobs have become a common occurrence.
Our bodies were not designed to be sat down for long periods of time, hunched over a desk, but with the average 8 hour a day job, we are nonetheless being forced to endure long amounts of time sitting down. Consequently, our spines and muscles are being placed under a lot of strain and we are suffering symptoms such as, neck and back ache.
Before the invention of computers, jobs were far more practical based and labor intensive; and as a result, our bodies much healthier.
In fact, approximately 4.9 million work days are lost due to back problems in the UK, totaling in a startling cost of around £5 billion to the industry.
Technology is continuing to expand rapidly and our world is becoming more and more technology dependent. Worryingly, our finger tips have only just started to touch the brink of technological possibilities and subsequently, the increase in desk, computer jobs is sure to rise and with it the amount of neck problems.
There are many reasons people suffer with neck pain, but two of the main causes resides in seating and posture.
With the ever-increasing amount of desk jobs, sitting down has become somewhat unavoidable and all this prolonged sitting down is causing pressure on our back and necks; and resulting in a wealth of muscular pain.
By being hunched over computers for hours on end every day, certain habits are becoming a common occurrence in the office.
With behaviors such as, leaning forward and craning our necks and backs to read the computer screen and cradling our phones between our cheek and ear; our muscles are being placed under strain on a daily basis.
Even habits such as, crossing our legs and leaning to one side, are causing our spines to become malformed and resulting in neck and back pain.
But with sitting down being an inevitable daily occurrence, how do we solve such a problem?
Prevent Neck & Back Pain with these Steps
Poor posture is the main cause of neck and back strain, so by improving our posture and cutting out habits such as, phone cradling, we can start towards a healthier future.
Relax and breathe slowly in and out, relieving yourself of any stresses. Stress can cause tension and in turn, aggravate sore muscles.
Adjust your chair height until your monitor is just below eye level.
Whilst sitting down, stretch out your arm, this is how far your monitor should be from you. Make sure the screen is facing you on directly and not favoring a particular side.
Stand up. Now sit back down while making sure to push your bottom directly back into your chair.
Now tuck your elbows against your sides, placing your arms onto the chair’s armrests. Raise your wrists slightly above the desk, so they are not hitting against any hard surface.
Keep your neck straight and shoulders square, this should create a slight curve in your lower back, whilst still keeping your bottom firmly tucked against your seat.
Place your feet flat onto the floor, if your feet do not reach the floor, use a footrest.
These seven steps, if followed, will help to prevent future neck and back pain.
Alternatively, if you wish to have a quick-fix method, place a tennis ball between the center of your spine and your chair and try and keep it there. Perform this exercise a few times to train your back into good posture.
You can also purchase a headset rather than cradling your phone and place regularly used items near to you to prevent strain on the neck and back.
Take a Stand
Even with good posture, neck and back pain can still be caused by lengthy amounts of time at the desk. This is because a curved position places strain onto the spine, causing an unnatural pressure onto ours neck and back muscles.
So what can we do?
By simply standing up and walking around every hour each day we can help to prevent back and neck pain and even increase our productivity, liven our moods and energize ourselves!
Understandably the reality of us finding the time to stand up every hour with such busy schedules is slim.
So why not turn your micro-breaks into something productive?
- Make a cup of tea
- Talk to people face-to-face rather than through internal emails
- Place your phone away from your desk, so every ring and call means a micro-break from the chair
By following these tips, you can work towards a healthier future and avoid the painful and annoying ailments of neck and back pain.