It’s unnatural, (and not particularly healthy), to sit or stand at a computer all day. What is natural is to change positions and do it often. You can easily employ different stances and adjustments at your computer throughout the day to condition your muscles to become less prone to injury. Read on to learn how.
Many of us are working from home these days and, even those of us lucky enough to have a home office, are sharing it with a spouse or other members of our household. We now find ourselves camping out at the kitchen table, using our laptop on the couch, or even working from bed at least some of the time. Are we doomed to a future full of neck, shoulder and back pain because we no longer have the perfect ergonomic setup we had at the office? The truth is, there’s no perfect, ergonomic environment that can make up for the long hours we spend working at our computers.
The myth of ergonomics
Ergonomic theory states that you can avoid muscle pain by adhering to prescribed postures and positions. In the past, a specialist might have come to your office to train you. She or he set you up with the correct chair, or a standing desk, and adjusted your screen height, keyboard and mouse position for optimal use. You were in the most natural position for your body and now that you’re working from home, you’re screwed, right? Wrong. You may have noticed that, even with the so-called perfect desk set-up, pain still managed to creep back in after a long day of working at the computer. It wasn’t because you failed to hold the perfect posture.
Standing Is Just as Good (or Bad) as Sitting
The fact of the matter is, when you work 8+ hours a day, whether you sit or stand at the computer, your body becomes less functional. In fact, one main reason for muscle pulls, strains, tears and tendinitis is that we ask our bodies to sit or stand for 10 to 12 hours a day and then we force our bodies to move fast with a lot of stress. The Iler Method® helps people get out of pain by focusing on muscles that are over-compensating, but the method doesn’t stop there. Every client is referred to a functional fitness trainer to ensure that, once they are out of pain, they stay that way.
If it’s not natural (or particularly healthy) to sit or stand at the computer all day, what’s the solution?
What is natural is to change the position of our bodies and to do it often. Most fitness professionals agree that everyone should work on a handful of basic movement patterns. (Always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program if you’re unsure if it’s safe for you.) You don’t have to wait until after work. You can employ the following stances and adjustments right at your computer throughout the workday. This will condition your smaller muscles to become less prone to injury in the same way that traditional functional fitness exercises condition bigger muscles.
Set an alarm to go off once an hour while you’re working at your computer to remind yourself to change position. Make your way through as many of the following as you can by the end of the day. Remember: Variation is the key, so do it all.
- Sit on the edge of your seat.
- Then sit all the way back.
- Sit cross legged both ways.
- Place your seat high and then low.
- Place your monitor low and then high.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Stand with feet pointed in & then switch to having them pointed out.
- Stand with feet apart and then switch to having them together.
- One foot forward & then the other.
- Do 20 air squats each hour. After 8 hours, that’s 160 squats! – Stand with feet just outside shoulder width. Toes 10-15 degrees out. Break at the hips and knees. Descending straight down while keeping a neutral back.
It’s ideal to spend half the day sitting and half the day standing. So, keep that goal in mind and keep moving!