1. Get up and move!
The more often the better. This is the absolute best thing you can do to minimise your chances of getting pain from sitting.
Getting up and moving is the most important thing that you can do when you have been sitting down all day. We recommend getting up every 20 minutes while at work. This might be to do a quick stretch and then sit back down or to go for a walk down the hall to make a tea, as long as you are moving outside the posture that you sit in. Using a “stand up reminder” app on your phone can be a good way of ensuring that you get up more often.
Also consider how much you’re moving before and after work. If you sit in the car to and from work, then sit to eat dinner and sit on the couch watching TV then work isn’t your only problem. Get out and exercise! The health department recommends between 2.5 and 5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week.
Remember your body needs movement. If you sit all day at work then your body needs it even more!
2. Optimise your sitting posture
You should be supported into good posture so that you can relax your back into your chair. Maintain the natural curves in your spine and avoid leaning on the desk.
“The best posture is your next posture” is a saying going around the health community at the moment. It alludes to the fact that posture isn’t everything and the best thing you can do is move as much as possible. This is true but sitting with appropriate posture and support will minimise the stress on your muscles and joints thereby decreasing your risk of overuse pain.
The best position to be in is a position where you are leaning back and are supported by the back of the seat into a neutral position. If you sit up away from the back of the chair you will be unnecessarily using the muscles in your back which may cause them to fatigue. The back of the chair is there for a reason – use it!
It is also important to try to maintain your spines natural curves when you’re sitting so try to sit right into the back of your chair so you don’t slouch, sit up tall and try to avoid leaning on the desk.
For more information see one of our physiotherapists or get your workstation assessed and setup by your workplaces occupational safety and health employee.
3. Reverse your posture
Your body will natural crave this after sitting. You will feel like you need to stretch into the opposite position to what you have been sitting in. A good example of this after a long car trip you will naturally want to stand and stretch backwards into extension.
When you have been sitting all day the muscles in the front of your hips and back of your thighs are in a shortened position so will start to feel tight. There can also be a tendency to slouch and therefor have your spine in a flexed posture. The opposite position of this is standing with hips and knees straight arching your spine backwards. The best stretching position for you might be different than this. If you have a tendency to roll your shoulders forwards you might want to stretch them backwards.
Stretch the muscles that feel like they need it and do it often! This is a great way to minimise the long term postural loading on muscles and joints.
If you get any pain from sitting or require more information, see one of our friendly physiotherapists.