Office workers, arise! Suffer pains no longerOffice workers generally sit in a chair over eight hours a day. As a result, after a long day at work their legs are often swollen or numb. That’s because their posture has affected their blood circulation. Also, if their sitting posture is poor, they can suffer from headaches, backaches and even serious vertebral disc problems. If you are an office worker and are too busy to go to a gym or exercise, you should at least make sure you have a good sitting posture.
First, you shouldn’t cross your legs while sitting, as this has adverse effects. Crossing your legs may be comfortable at first, but as the level of your thighs alters, this increases differential stress on the pelvis and spine. Also, such a posture prevents smooth blood circulation and puts pressure on the nerves. This can cause lumbago, a spinal disorder, or varicose veins where surface blood vessels become visible under the skin. Crossing your legs or even wearing very tight boots slows down the return of blood in you legs to your heart.
“In order to prevent varicose veins, people should not cross their legs or wear high heels,” said Yang Joo-min, the head of Ghil Varicose Vein Clinic. “Leg exercises, such as flexing and extending the knees and ankles, also help.” In an office, it’s also good to wear slippers instead of heels.
If you use a computer keyboard for a long time, your arms can swell and feel numb. That’s because your arms are bent at a lower position in relation to the heart, which can again slow your circulation. So, if you work in front of a computer for more than an hour, you should stretch your arms at least once every 30 minutes. Also it is quite common for people’s neck and shoulders to feel tense.
“It’s good to twist the neck and rotate the shoulder joints while stretching the arms. If you feel heavy in some part of the body, hold the extended stretch position for about 10 seconds,” said Lee In-shik, a doctor in the Rehabilitation department of Konkuk University Hospital. “Stretch for five to 10 minutes in the morning and evening.”
It is important not to support the head with your hands while working as this can lead to assymetrical muscular and vertebral stress, with the symptoms of pain and tension in the neck and shoulders.
“Habitually supporting one’s head with one’s hands could cause degenerative changes in the neck or even allow a disc to slip,” said Jang Ki-un, a rehabilitation doctor at Hallym Medical Center. He added that it’s even worse to support the neck while bending the body forward because it could cause slipped discs in other parts of the spine as its center of gravity is pushed forward.
To help kick the habit, stretch your neck around three to four times an hour and also bend it forward and backward for about five to 10 seconds.
Another issue is hemorrhoids, a condition that can develop from a bad lifestyle. If one is careful, it’s easily prevented, or at least supressed. By sitting in a chair for over eight hours a day, one’s anus will relax and the slower blood flow will cause increased pressure, which causes ruptures in small blood vessels. If the chair is hard and cold, the blood circulation slows even more, worsens the symptoms. In order to prevent this, it’s good to clench your anus from time to time, as if you’re suppressing passing wind, and then easing up slowly. It’s also good to change your sitting posture often.
“Sitting in a bathtub at about 40 degrees centigrade (104 Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes in the morning and evening will help prevent and cure piles,” said Lee Dong-keun, the head of Hansol Hospital.
Many office workers adopt the “monkey posture” at work, with their neck forward and their back bent. This posture not only harms the neck, waist and spine, but also helps consolidate abdominal fat.
“The spine should retain a double curved ‘S’ shape when looked at from the side,” said Ko Young-jin, a rehabilitation doctor at Gangnam St. Mary’s Hospital. “When sitting on a chair, the hips should be at the back of the seat and the back should be straight up.”
It is also good if the knee joints are slightly higher than the hips. When using a computer for a long time, keep your back straight, pull down your chin and keep your elbows at a level height with the keyboard so as not to harm your wrists.
Also, don’t forget to stand up at least once an hour to stretch your legs ― it’s even better if you can go and take a walk outside to get some fresh air.
The Ten Commandments for healthy office workers
1. Don’t cross your legs while sitting in a chair.
2. When you want to smoke, drink water instead.
3. Drink coffee without sugar or cream.
4. Don’t go back to your seat right after eating lunch. Take a walk instead.
5. Tighten and relax your anus from time to time.
6. Don’t use an instant messenger program to chat with coworkers.
7. Wear slippers and exercise your ankles by twisting from time to time.
8. Walk up and down the stairs, instead of using the elevator.
9. Ease tension in the neck and shoulders at least once an hour.
10. Sit up straight at all times.
Source: Hansol Hospital and Ghil Varicose Vein Clinic
by Park Tae-kyun