4 Principles for Pain-Free Workdays
#1. Use healthy posture and movement patterns.
With all the emphasis on how much or little we should sit or stand at work, there is very little discussion of technique in sitting and standing. Most people use poor technique slumpsitting, archsitting, parking weight poorly on joints, and so on.
As long as this is the case, any position is going to stack up badly in the research—we’ve seen this for sitting and are beginning to see it for standing. Sitting has been much maligned as “the new smoking”; and now standing as a substitute is being shown to cause increased hospitalization due to varicose veins, increased atherosclerosis, etc. To begin the journey back to a painfree workday, a good starting point is stretchsitting. Stretchsitting is easy, safe, comfortable, and therapeutic.
Use a towel, flannel, or a Stretchsit cushion so it contacts you at midback, below the shoulder blades.
- Scoot your bottom all the way back in the chair.
- Lean forward from the hips, and tilt your ribcage forward, like you are doing a minicrunch.
- Push downwards on the armrests/side bars/seat pan of your chair to get a gentle stretch in your lower back.
- Keeping the stretch, lean back from your hips and stick your midback on to the Stretchsit cushion/towel.
- Come out of the minicrunch and relax completely, letting the Stretchsit cushion/towel keep you in mild traction.
- Roll each shoulder back and rest your hands close into your body.
- Angle your chin down slightly, letting the back of your neck be long.
#2. Vary your baseline posture.
No matter how good your posture, your body still needs a variety of positions. Sitting and standing are the most practical positions for most jobs (example computer jobs)—I recommend switching between them every 20-30 minutes. If other positions and movements are practical for doing your job (eg, walking when talking on the phone), that’s a great bonus—the more baseline postures and movements, the better. (one sitting against backrest, one stacksitting, standing at a desk, and walking with phone)
#3. Supplement with rest, exercise, movement during and outside the workday.
Use your breaks in the workday and your time away from work to supplement your particular baseline positions. Do you need rest? Exertion? Stretching? Strengthening your abdominal muscles?... There are hundreds of muscles and tissues in your body that have needs just like a varied diet serves you well, a varied movement regimen will too.
#4. Use well-designed furniture and tools.
Learn and experiment with what constitutes healthy furniture this is an investment in how you will be spending about half of your waking life.