Look after your back, and your back will look after you

www.freedigitalphotos.netAre you slouching in your chair as you read this?

It is more than likely that you are.

Sitting down for hours and hours everyday can dramatically affect your posture, and in turn cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

When we say sitting down, we don’t just mean at a desk. This also covers watching the TV, using a computer, reading, doing homework as well as travel by car, bus or train

Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

Studies have linked excessive sitting with weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers as well as premature death.

We have some simple steps that can be taken to help keep your back strong and safe.

Stand, sit, and walk tall.
Your mother was so right. By standing tall you work the deep postural muscles which hold you up against gravity. When you slouch, not only does it look bad as your stomach bulges, shoulders slope and back arches, but it also puts added pressure on the spine and affects your breathing. Remember to lengthen up through the crown of your head and you’ll look taller and slimmer.

Get up
Sitting still at a computer is a recipe for disaster but something you can avoid. No matter how well your desk is set up experts recommend breaking up sedentary time every 30 minutes for at least one to two minutes.

Keep your back mobile
An inflexible, unused spine can be massively ageing and painful. Exercises such as waist twists can easily be done anywhere and not only keep your back mobile but also help work your tummy and waist muscles.

To do this easy exercise, sit or stand tall with your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Fold your arms in front of your chest just below shoulder height. Breathe in and then breathe out as you move your head to the right, turning your neck and body but keeping your pelvis still. Breathe in as you return, spiralling upwards and repeat four times each side. Try to do this once an hour.

OK, this sounds really obvious but it is amazing the number of people who don’t breath properly. Effective breathing can help reduced stress; create better posture and ensure greater stamina. For the best results sit tall and place your hands on your ribs. As you breathe in focus on your back and ribs as they expand. Breathe out completely and feel your ribcage closing but stay tall. Repeat five to ten times and feel yourself growing calmer and more relaxed.

Your Desk
Workstation factors that can affect your back include:

  • Seating posture
  • Computer screen, keyboard and mouse position
  • Desk equipment layout
  • Chair height

Ensure you have all of these set up correct and if you are ensure, ask your manager to arrange a workplace assessment for you.

If you have ongoing back pain or posture issues, be sure to see your GP for expert help.

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