Get your office posture straight

Get your office posture straight

Along with backbreaking hours at the office comes a bad back - a growing number of office goers in the UAE are letting poor sitting habits get the better of them.

By Dr. Stan Pierce

Published: Fri 26 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Feb 2016, 1:00 AM

As most of us climb the career ladder, the ascent becomes somewhat painful.
No, we're not touching on office politics or the long, stressful hours that you put in. It's "backbreaking" of another kind that we do. With increasing hours spent in our office chairs and slumped in front of our computers, lower back pain is an almost universal part of our work experience now.
In the Western world, almost 80 per cent of people are expected to suffer from disruptive lower back pain at some point in their lives, and the if you just ask around the office, chances are, you'll figure out that we're not far behind in the UAE.

Mainly, it's got to do with our poor posture while at work. But quitting our source of daily bread isn't an option, so here is what you can do to improve your position at the office, literally.
Is there a growing incidence of bad posture and back pain in the UAE?
With the increased use of cell phones and electronic touch pads, as well as the growing number of jobs that require substantial amounts of time sitting at a computer, the incidence of bad posture and back pain is on a dramatic rise in the UAE as well as in the rest of the world.
What are the main reasons for this? Is it entirely preventable (related to lifestyle? Is it also hereditary?
As people are spending more time with their head and neck flexed in a forward position staring at their electronics, they are creating excessive muscle tightness in the neck and back and putting abnormal pressure on their discs and spinal joints. Although this is not hereditary, most children are now spending excessive amounts of time in this same bad position, playing on their electronics and texting their friends. When you consider that most people already have misalignments of spinal bones from previous minor or major traumas that are creating spinal problems and pain, then the bad postures endemic in this technologocal age is accelerating the decline in our health from these uncorrected misalignments, and also irritating our nerves and muscles further.
What are some simple things we can do to ensure we have good spinal/back health?
Getting checked for spinal misalignments is the most important thing you can do to keep a healthy spine. Stretching, exercising, and keeping your body fit and trim will also contribute to having a strong and healthy back.
What can you do to have good posture in the office or workplace?
The height of your chair should be set to allow your forearms to be at 90 degrees to your upper arm. You should have a foot rest that is tall enough to allow for your thighs to be at 90 degrees to your body and your shin (lower leg) to be at 90 degrees to your thighs. Your computer screen should be at the height of your eyes or slightly below. Lastly, you should attempt to sit with your chin retracted back, to keep the weight of your head over your spine.
When is the right time to go to your doctor for back problems?
Having your spinal alignment checked periodically is a logical thing to do to correct misalignments and prevent the development of major dysfunction and pain. Most people don't know this and therefore wait until their aches and pains have become intolerable before they go to a doctor looking for relief. Keeping your alignment corrected, maintaining good posture, and exercising are the best ways to avoid having to see doctors for ongoing back problems. Additionally, there are some new techniques available, such as EPIC, a non-surgical, gentle, effective technique, which if done periodically by a specialised doctor, can help prevent a lot of health problems in the future.
(The writer is Founder, CEO, and Lead Instructor for EPIC at the Atlas Spinal Center.)

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