Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Dangers of the Desk Job

If you're like me and a large percentage of the working population that have desk jobs, we spend long hours sitting and starring at a computer screen. This unnatural posture, caused by improper sitting, results in increased neck, mid and lower back, shoulder, and leg pain. In particular, sitting for long periods of time causes your hips to be flexed for a prolonged period. Also, there is a tendency for the shoulders and head to fatigue under the constant influence of gravity which leads to rounding of the head and shoulders. If typing is a large part of your job, carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist, might also be imminent. So, we know we still have to work, what should we do?

Having your body in alignment is the key to neuromuscular efficiency, the ability of the nervous system to communicate effectively with the muscular system. In order to do this, you have to work on fixing any postural distortions you might already have. (Shameful plug: get a free fitness assessment at Core!). Some of these distortions include having your feet turn out uncontrollably during a squat, shoulder elevation during a seated chest press, and an excessive forward lean when walking on the treadmill, just to name a few*. Once you've done the stretches and exercises to fix any distortions, you can properly train. This will prevent injury and keep you from placing more stress on joints and muscles that are not properly aligned.

In the meantime, try these tips that will help prevent postural distortions.

  • Get up and stretch every hour (or more frequent if possible), especially your hips and wrists!
  • Get an ergonic office chair, keyboard and mouse to keep your hands and back in a natural position.
  • Ladies, try and refrain from crossing your legs at your desk, but do try sitting closer to the edge of your seat to keep your posture.
  • Keep your monitor at eye level to refrain from straining your neck
  • Even if you're tense, focus on pushing your shoulders down, away from your ears.
  • Drink lots of water! This will not only keep you hydrated, but the frequent bathroom trips will keep you moving throughout the day.
  • If you really want to work on stabilization and posture, toss out the office chair and go for a stability ball, there's no slouching on that thing!
I hope this information was helpful, remember to see a Core Health and Fitness expert personal trainer to get properly assessed. It will make a world of a difference!

Best of Luck!

Amy Willis - NASM CPT

* It is recommended to get properly assessed by a Certified Personal Trainer before diagnosing postural distortions.

Source: National Academy of Sports Medicine


Eating more slowly gives your body a chance to tell your mind that it’s full, so that you stop eating before you go overboard. In a preliminary study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2004, study subjects ate less when they were instructed to eat more slowly. Slowing down between bites allows you to recognize your feelings of hunger and satiety so you have a chance to realize when you’ve had enough—then stop before you clean your plate and later regret it. (I actually have to cover my plate so I will STOP picking at it!)

Here are some practical tips for chewing more thoroughly and eating more slowly:
  • Give yourself enough time to eat—at least 20-30 minutes just to eat the meal, plus additional time to prepare it.
  • Don’t eat amidst distractions, like the TV, computer, or while driving.
  • Be fully present while you eat. Notice the smell, temperature, texture, color, and subtle flavor differences of each food you consume.
  • Take smaller portions, taking a break before refilling.
  • Put your fork down after each bite.
  • Eat mindfully, chewing each bite as many times as necessary to pulverize any texture.
  • If you’re eating in a group, be aware of the speed at which others are eating. Challenge yourself to be the last to finish.
  • Start by finding out how quickly you currently eat your meals. (You may be surprised to find out that breakfast or lunch at your computer is over within 5 or 10 minutes.)
  • Then, work on adding time to your meals, aiming for each meal to take AT LEAST 20 minutes.
I know I am guilty of eating to fast also, it's a crazy fast pace life we all have I know, we should slow down and try to enjoy it more!!

In Health and Fitness,
Stephanie :o) "GET UP AND TRAIN!"