Prevention is better than reaction

By Chelsy Swackhamer

Prevention is better than reaction

How are you sitting right now? Are you slouched over? Are you sitting with one leg crossed over the other? The way you sit, where you sit, and how long you sit, are all important. Being stuck at your desk for 8 hours a day is hard on both the body and mind. Many of the aches, pains, and musculoskeletal problems adults feel are the result of the long-term effects of incorrect postures or body misalignment.  For example, postural kyphosis (excessive rounding of the upper spine) in adolescence may be a result of poor sitting and standing habits. Scientific studies have linked poor posture to several health problems and concerns, including neck and shoulder pain.

The most common health issues for people who have desk jobs are various neck and shoulder pains.

Chronic neck pain can last for days, weeks, and sometimes even months.  It's one of the top 5 disorders in the US, and 20% of people have reported having pain at one point or another. Not only is neck pain affecting individuals physically, but it affects their social and mental wellbeing as well. 

The aches and pains come from a functional ailment caused by overly strained tissues. The strain creates an imbalance in the muscles as some muscles get weaker whereas the other muscles tighten too much. This leads to an adjustment of movements in the pain area which on the other hand increases the muscular imbalance. Some of the factors that influence these issues are your ergonomics at work, the amount of physical activity you get, repetitive movements, along with your diet and hydration levels.

Muscular Imbalance 

The muscular imbalance is most often due to the working position that a person has while working in a static posture. You have poor posture if you sit at your desk with your shoulders pushed forward, back rounded and head pushed forward. On top of that, sitting in an office chair means bending the hip in a deep angle for hours straight. The muscles in the front get strained while the muscles in the back become elongated and weakened. This imbalance may occur anywhere in the front-back axel, around both sides of the spine and joints.

The muscular imbalance can develop in the superficial and deep muscles that help support the spine. This problem can usually be found in people who suffer from long term lower back and neck problems.

Increase Variation

Massage and pain medication can help to ease a few symptoms, but only for the short-term. Task variation in repetitive work has been linked to alleviating fatigue and risk of neck and shoulder issues. Task variation includes postural changes and breaks. It is especially important that breaks include an exercise regime or a change in posture from that used in working (such as going from sitting to standing).

Exercise breaks provide a way of increasing 'variation' in the job without requiring work tasks to be reallocated among workers. Therefore, different kinds of breaks provide a practical way to decrease the risk of neck and shoulder pain. Even if you aren't dealing with these issues currently, it's still good to take breaks to prevent issues in the future. Prevention is better than reaction, and this can be done by taking enough breaks during the day and by doing countermoves to sitting. 

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