4 Principles for Pain-Free Workdays

Written by Esther Gokhale

#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.

#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.