Updated: Sep 30, 2020
by 楊庭安, PT
According to research conducted by the founder ofEasePain, who is experienced in data science, EasePain articles are mostly read on weekdays, either during or after work hours. Other research shows when people talk about subjects regarding pain, posture, or a herniated disc, they would immediately adjust their posture...and maintain it for about five minutes. With these two points in mind, we thought we could write some articles about common problems that office workers suffer from. When people read these articles in the office, hopefully, they will become more aware of the need to improve their work habits. We also encourage you to remind your colleagues not to remain seated for too long whenever you read this series of articles.
Today we will be discussing neck, shoulder,and waist pain. These are common problems, and, interestingly, they are more likely to occur on weekdays. On weekends, the pains are likely to become alleviated or even stop. During weekdays, people often don't experience any pain when they first sit down. However, as time progresses, the pain starts to creep in and become more intense. If they change postures, things would seem to be fine.
There are many similarities among people who experience these problems:
1. Their work requires them to remain in a seated position for long periods of time.
2. They often maintain the same posture without moving.
3. They need to look down at a computer screen or do paperwork for long hours.
Usually, these problems arise due to poor posture over a prolonged period of time. However, if you've been a fan of EasePain for a while, you'll surely ask, "But haven't you posted an article on how posture isn't necessarily related to pain?"
Indeed, we did. However, in that article, we were referring to dynamic posture. In other words, when you're in constant movement, your posture won't make a huge difference. On the other hand, when you're required to be seated all day, your posture will start to play a role in your pain.
Common Posture Problems
If you're in the office now, turn around and see if you can observe these common posture mistakes in your co-workers when they're seated.
If you just took the opportunity to check out the cute girls or guys sitting near you, good for you! Nevertheless, if you or your colleagues are seated in these positions, what problems may arise in the long run?
1. Overly-curved lumbar spine or thoracic spine.
2. The back muscles are forced to stretch due to the bent thoracic spine. At the same time, these muscles are overburdened because they are in constant isometric contraction in order to maintain stability.
3. As you tilt your head forward, the nape muscles have to exert more force to support your head. When the thoracic muscles are tightened and constricted, the upper crossed syndrome is more likely to occur and induce pain.
According to research in biomechanics, the lumbar vertebrae are subjected to more pressure in a seated position compared to a standing or lying position. The pressure may cause the loss of fluid content in the intervertebral discs. The loss of fluid may lead to accelerated regression. Also, the pressure may contribute to an increased likelihood of a herniated disc.
Your vertebral column actually works like a geared device.
Swiss neurologist Brugger pointed out in 2000 that poor posture is a chain reaction in the vertebral column. When one segment of the spine starts to incline, other segments will be affected and become off-kilter. The different segments of the spinal column in fact perform like meshing gears.
Image credit: https://www.2h-store.com.hk
So, what should you do?
First and foremost, don't stay seated all the time! We strongly recommend that you stand up and take a walk every 30 minutes or one hour.
"Of course I know that, but it just can't be helped when I'm busy at work," perhaps you would say in reply. It's true that specific types of work environment or personal condition may cause people to remain sedentary. For example, a hardcore engineer who is "in the zone" may work uninterrupted for 20 hours straight once they start coding. In this case, I suggest at least taking good care of your backbone. Like I said, the vertebral column works like a geared machine. If you fix one part, other parts will be calibrated, too. For instance, you can place a cushion that fits you at the lower back area, or use an ergonomic chair. These measures will more or less reduce the chances of pain.
Still, we recommend not remaining seated for too long. Being seated for a long period of time in poor posture may also result in constricted breathing in the chest, rounded shoulders (anterior humeral glide), the constriction of the hamstrings, and disrupted digestive function. We will discuss further in future articles.
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