“Sitting is the new smoking.” Whether you’ve heard the adage or not, Dr. James Levine’s now iconic phrase crystallized the widely held opinion of the medical community for years: office work and Netflix binges are doing irreparable harm to our health. Any Physical Therapist, Chiropractor or Orthopedist could tell you that sitting all day affects us from our skin (decreased blood flow) all the way down to our joints (constant experience of stress positions), but sitting is an epidemic in America today. What is there to do?
Full disclosure: as I write this, everyone in our office is sitting. Driving a car or working at a desk is practically unavoidable for many Americans today, and we’re certainly no exception. But at Omni we try to practice what we preach, and what we preach is harm reduction. Sitting eight to twelve hours in a day can never be made healthy, but it can be made healthier, and the damage done to your body can be drastically reduced. Here are a few of our tips:
Learn how to sit
Although it sounds silly (of course you know how to sit!) what we mean is learn how to sit properly. A great deal of pain comes from the way we sit day in and day out. Some basics:
• Don’t cross your legs. Keep your feet flat on the ground with your ankles in front of your knees.
• Relax your shoulders, keep your chest up and chin down. Shoulder and neck tension can very easily become chronic.
• Keep your knees lower than or level with your hips. Raise your chair if possible.
• Choose chair settings that support your lower or mid back, or consider using a back support. We love the Back Vitalizer and have them for sale on site!
Some retool the axiom as “sedentary is the new smoking,” and there’s truth in it! Standing desks, though they do burn more calories and are a great option for some, often just take the pain you got from your old desk and move it somewhere else. That’s because being sedentary is as big a contributor to your pain as the seated position itself. Little choices throughout the day make a big difference- stand and stretch every hour, walk during phone calls, park farther away from the office door. Your body wants to move and work, so let it!
Desk exercises make a massive and immediate difference in how you feel. Omni is actually hard at work on a more comprehensive selection of desk exercises right now, but you can start with these very simple seated stretches.
Very gently, press backwards below your nose with two fingers to keep your head in a good position, while you do the following exercises or whenever your neck feels tired or sore.
- While sitting up straight (chest up), try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Relax your head to the side, keeping your nose pointing forward.
- Rotate your head to the side and nod your chin to your collar bone.
- Put your hand behind your back on your sacrum and rotate your shoulder backwards.
These tips are just a starting point, but we know the value of small changes to your day, because we’ve made them ourselves. Try them for yourself, be wowed, and then check out our free Lower Back Workshop with Christine Cook on Tuesday, October 10th! We’ll be delving into anatomy, posture, exercise, and all the habits that will be your solution to sedentary!