Sitting pretty: Proper sitting posture

Most of us spend more time at the office than we do at home, which is why it’s so important to consider how our behavior at the office can affect how we feel at home. If you sit at your computer for several hours each day, are you sitting pretty?

Before you look at yourself in the mirror, reflect on your desk and workspace. Specifically, says Alan Zovar, a physical therapist that works at Dandelion Dreams, Inc., (aPhysiquality partner), you should think about the angles in your body as they interact with your desk. Your eyes should be approximately 18 inches away from your computer screen, he says, and they should align with the middle of the screen, to avoid looking down or up too much, which could cause neck strain in the long run. In the same manner, your chair should be centered with the monitor to minimize twisting the head in order to see the screen.

Take a look at how you sit in your chair: Click to enlarge.Take a look at your chair now, and how you sit in it. Adjust the chair’s height in order to be able to rest your elbows at about a 90-degree angle on your desk; if the chair’s arms get in the way, it’s probably better to remove them, Alan notes.

Your forearms should be parallel to your desk and your wrists should be as flat as possible. Alan suggests using mouse and keyboard supports to maintain this posture. And your knees should also be bent at a 90-degree angle. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you can use a foot support in order to properly support the weight of your legs.

Once your desk is properly set up, you can think about your sitting posture. Lumbar support is essential to support the back and reduce back strain. If your office chair is not supportive enough, you can purchase a back support like the Kiss My Back! support from Dandelion Dreams, Inc. The back support will reinforce the natural curve of the lumbar spine. In turn, this straightens the neck, shoulders and upper back. When you’re sitting at your desk, your torso, neck and head should all be upright, without any slouching or straining.

Frequent phone users should use a headset to avoid balancing the phone between their shoulder and ear.Other office behaviors are just as important, reminds Richard Baudry, a physical therapist and the founder of Baudry Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in the New Orleans area. He cautions workers to keep their desk — and the space underneath it — clear of clutter, in order to enable easy movement around your workstation. Frequent phone users should use a headset to avoid balancing the phone between their shoulder and ear, which can create neck and back pain. And frequent movement is key — stand up once an hour to stretch your back or take a walk to the building cafeteria to grab a drink.

If you’re concerned about your workspace, use this OSHA worksheet to evaluate how your desk is set up. Or contact a physical therapist near you to evaluate your entire office, ensuring a healthier — and happier — team.

 

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How to carry a baby without breaking your back

One of the biggest surprises of parenthood is the toll it takes on your body. Yes, sleep deprivation and constant feedings can wear you down. But the joy of picking up your baby to hold her close can lead to a variety of aches and pains, especially in your back. Keep these tips in mind to reduce pain and improve your time with your little one.

The number one thing to remember, says Ann Cowlin, the creator of Dancing Thru Pregnancy, a fitness program for expectant mothers (and a Physiquality partner), is to “bring your infant or child close to your center line (or your center of gravity) before standing up.” For example, if you’re picking your baby up off of the floor, kneel on the floor to get closer to him, pick him up and snuggle him into your chest, then stand up.

Use your abs, rather than your back, to pick up your child.Ann reminds moms and dads to engage their core; use those transverse abdominals to support your child. And when initially picking her up, try to put more of the force into your elbows and core rather than your hands or wrists; not only are those muscles and joints stronger, but the further away the baby is from your body, the more stress it will put on your back. As Ann illustrates, “when you hold a 40-pound child firmly against your body, using your elbows to support her, it places less force on the lumbar spine than holding a glass or wine or mug of beer straight out in front of you.” (Not that new parents have ever needed to resort to spirits after the little one’s bedtime.) Read More

 

Step away from the computer!

With the evolution of technology, people are spending more time at their desks and less time moving around at the workplace. The New York Times pointed out in 2011 that “jobs requiring moderate physical activity, which accounted for 50% of the labor market in 1960, have plummeted to just 20%.” And while the New York Times story emphasized how such changes in the workplace are a big factor contributing to the obesity issues plaguing Americans, there are many more reasons we should all try to step away from our desks now and then. Read More

Workplace ergonomics

More than ever before, Americans are sitting in front of computers for hours at a time, whether at work or at play. Have you thought about how your posture at your desk or the layout of your workspace can affect your health? Read More

When should I see a physical therapist?

Physical therapists, or PTs, are musculoskeletal specialists, trained to treat many problems ranging from aches and pains to rehabilitation after surgery. Alison Mason, a physical therapist at Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), explains, “Physical therapists are experts at finding muscular dysfunctions and working with you to correct them by rebuilding strength and stability.” Read More

Dealing with Lower Back Pain

Most healthcare professionals would agree that back pain is a complicated issue. While up to 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, there are so many causes of back pain that it’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact reason, making it hard to treat and relieve such pain. Sources can include arthritis, spinal injury and nerve compression, but Jason Wilder, a physical therapist and the owner of Apex Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in Tennessee), says there are three main causes of lower back pain. Read more