ARE YOU READY TO
HANDLE THAT PAIN?
Thirty years ago, the chances of you working in front of a computer all day were much less. Now, with the rise and omnipresence of technological devices such as computers and cell, there is a new wave of associated aches and pains – those brought on as a byproduct of technology. In fact, there is a new term coined for the act of leaning forward unnaturally, often while looking at your device or computer; it is called tech neck. Tech neck is something we are all guilty of, whether consciously or subconsciously. When you are on your phone, you are placing the equivalent of 60 pounds of pressure on your neck. That equates to a lot of neck pain.
Not only are a lot of us on our phones all day, we’re also sitting in front of a computer all day. If you’re one of millions of Americans who work an office job, you’re most likely feeling the associated aches that sitting all day can have on your body. While the act of sitting itself is harmless, the effects of prolonged sitting on your body can be harmful. Besides the annoying neck and back pain, you are placing your overall health at risk.
So what exactly does happens to your body when you sit all day? Well, we all know that being inactive has an adverse effect on your body rather than a positive one. In fact, research has shown that it takes one hour of exercise to counteract the effects of sitting six or more hours a day. Not only does sitting for extended periods of time affect your musculoskeletal system, it also has numerous other adverse effects as well.
For one, you could be subject to blood clots which can have serious complications and even lead to death. Sitting can restrict the flow of blood to parts of your body such as your lungs. Even if you are perfectly fit and healthy, you too could be at risk to suffering blood clots. Your posture will also suffer. If you look at a mirror, analyze your natural posture. If your back is hunched and your shoulders are rounded, it is the by-product of poor posture. While we all try to be conscious of how we are sitting, it can be hard to not slouch all day especially if you are sitting for eight hours straight.
Sitting at your desk for too long can also slow down your metabolism. The lack of activity can add more weight to your frame, as your body isn’t burning as much energy as when you are up and active. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, especially if you’re spending more time sitting in front of a desk or on the couch than being active. Prolonged sitting also increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Your posture and how you sit have a great effect on your musculoskeletal system. If your body is in awkward positions for eight hours straight, your muscles get out of funk. Your knees, hips and joints will also stiffen, which is why it feels good to just get up and stretch at your desk every once and a while.
Of course your back pain won’t just go away when you’re not sitting at a desk. To offset the aches and pains associated with sitting in front of a desk all day, here are some physical therapy exercises you can do in the comfort of your home or office to undo the damage:
The Shoulder Drop. Drop your shoulders down away from your ears and squeeze your shoulder blades inwards towards your spine as if you were holding a pencil in between them. Hold this position for ten seconds and repeat. This will strengthen your scapular muscles so that you don’t hunch forward.
Lunges. This move will really stretch your hips. Starting at a standing position, take a step forward with your right foot so that you are lunging forward and your knee forms a 90-degree angle. Raise your right arm towards the ceiling so that it is running parallel to your right ear and turn your head so that you are looking towards your hand in the air. Hold for ten seconds, alternate to a left lunge and repeat.
Starfish. Reach for the skies and stretch your chest, shoulders, hips and ankles. Place your feet so that they are slightly outside the width of your hips and stand on your tippy-toes. Reach your arms in the sky and stretch your fingers so that they are all spread out. You should feel a stretch all the way from your shoulders all the way to your toes.
Neck nods. This can be done easily at your workstation. Slowly bring your head forward so that your chin is resting on your chest. Hold for five seconds. Do the reverse and bring your head back so that you’re looking at the ceiling. Hold this for five seconds. Alternate between the two. When you’re done going back and forth, do the same but side to side. Slowly turn your head and neck so that it is over your left shoulder. Hold this pose and then turn your head so that it is looking over your right shoulder. Repeat when you’re feeling tense in your neck and upper back.
Lateral Flexion. Similar to the neck stretches above. Bring your left ear and rest it on your left shoulder and hold it for ten seconds. Alternate sides and repeat.
Shoulder Shrugs. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears. Hold for a few seconds and then let go and relax your shoulders. Hold the shrug again until you have done a set of ten repetitions.
Standing Pigeon. This move really opens up your hips. With your feet at hip distance, prop one leg up on your desk so that your knee and calves are resting on your desk, with your foot resting against your lower body. Lean slightly forward towards your leg and hold for ten seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Open Up Your Chest. This move can also be done at your desk. With your arms behind you, hold your arms straight out behind you and interlock your fingers. Hold this pose for ten seconds to open up your tight chest muscles.
These exercises are great to do at-home or as a supplement to your stretching and strengthening exercises in-office with our physical therapists. Give us a call today to learn how physical therapy can help you reverse the aches and pains from sitting at a desk all day at (646) 665-7109.