Your Office Chair Wants You Dead…. Fight Back
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” – Woody Allen
They may seem harmless enough. But slowly, methodically and painfully, desk chairs everywhere are trying to kill us. Find out how we can fight back.
Maybe the title and opening statement of this article are a bit dramatic. But as someone who has spent a lot of time hunched over a laptop in a cubicle while serving my 7am-6pm corporate career, I know that those statements are true. While office chairs do not act quickly, I can assure you that they are rolling, adjustable, killing machines. In addition to stiffening your muscles, creating muscle imbalances and wreaking havoc with your posture… sitting all day and living a sedentary lifestyle results in the following:
- Higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Higher cholesterol
- Higher risk of some cancer
- Increased risk in all health causes of mortality
If that last list doesn’t hammer the point home, then I am not sure what will. Personally, I have experienced lower back pain, tight muscles (including a lingering ITB Syndrome issue) and several other problems I am sure have gone unseen, but are adding up over the years.
This is all very doom and gloom stuff if you are confined to a cube and a desk chair all day, but there are ways to prevent or reduce the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Some of the most common recommendations are:
- Stand up for 3 minutes, every 20 minutes, throughout the day
- Sit with the screen at eye height, at a distance that is an arm’s length away
- Sit with your back straight, or at a slight recline, with your thighs at a 90 degree angle and your feet flat on the ground
- Stretch often
- Take advantage of a standup desk if possible, and don’t mind the strange looks you may get
- Walk when you are in one-on-one meetings or on the phone, definitely get a headset
- Focus on keeping your core tight and your back straight. Slouching is the most common issue when sitting for long periods of time
- Get a chair with lumbar support to help prevent slumping
- Explore alternative chair options like the exercise ball versions
In order to address muscle imbalances and tightness that can’t be completely prevented with the suggestions above, the best solution is to include strength training and stretching into your daily routine. Full body, compound movements with weight training can help correct muscle imbalances. Cardio activity of any kind will help strengthen the cardiovascular system and adding a stretching or yoga workout into your routine can help reduce tight muscles and nagging injuries.
A consistent fitness routine and trying to utilize the suggestions above are the best ways to counteract all of the negative effects of sitting at a job all day. I find it difficult to keep perfect posture and stand up as much as needed each day, so I rely heavily on my fitness routine to help stave off the lurking murderer rolling beneath me.
Let us know what has worked for you in the fight against your desk job.