I have had low back pain for a few months now. I when to my Chiropractor he said I was out of alignment. Lately I have been sitting at my desk in front of my computer much more and doing less exercise. Is there an easy way to correct posture? Is there a good alternative to the standard office desk chair?
It has become more difficult to maintain optimal structural alignment in our modern society. While nothing can replace physical activity, there are simple ways to maintain good posture, even at your desk. First of all, most office chairs are not made ergonomically to promote structural alignment that is essential for proper breathing. In fact sitting with your knees at 90° angles, slouched, without back/lumbar support puts a great deal of stress on your body and can lead to chronic postures that do not promote diaphragmatic breathing. Add an unnatural position of a keyboard in front of you and an abducted shoulder attached to a mouse and you are on your way to having more pain and discomfort and less energy.
There is a solution. Sit on a cushion that gentle cants or tips the hips slightly forward. The majority of the weight should be evenly balanced on the ischial tuberocities (sits-bones). To take it up to the next level of stability, you may consider trying an inflatable rubber ball that is size appropriate for your height. Proper positioning of the legs should be at an angle of less than 90° when seated on your sits-bones with the spine straight. From here, orient your desk/keyboard/mouse ergonomically to suit your posture. In most cases, an under desk pull-out drawer for the keyboard and mouse is preferred as it positions the elbows at angles of less than 90° and allows the muscles of the cervical spine to relax. Finally, position your screen/monitor so that you are looking straight ahead of you. If this is not possible, be sure that your head/neck is orientated vertically (chin not tipped forward) and use your eyes to gaze downward toward the screen.
When you are on the ball, the brain must regulate body position and breath to maintain balance. This requires and builds core strength that is useful even when you are not at your desk. So whether you choose a traditional chair or a ball, the most important questions that you should ask yourself, “Is my body in the proper position for me to maintain good core stabilization when I am at my desk?” If not, make the needed changes. Your body will thank you for it and you will be less apt to back, shoulder, and/or neck pain, headaches, nerve entrapment syndromes, carpal tunnel, and symptoms of poor circulation such as cold hands/feet.
Finally, I always recommend standing up and stretching for a few minutes every hour. It breaks up the monotony, enhances blood flow to the brain, this provides more oxygen, enhances mental acuity, and gives you a chance to sit back down and find “the sweet spot” of sitting that feels the most supportive for your body/mind. This will facilitate better performance at your desk and more importantly, support your health.