Work is such a Crick in the Neck
By Tina Anderson, hh2's Director of Support
If you are like me and sit at a desk all day, you may also have a sore neck and a backside that resembles your office chair. Media splashes news of the negative effects sitting all day can cause. Dr. James Levine says “we are sitting ourselves to death”. It affects our muscles, organs, weight, and energy. With headaches and my sitter looking like I’m always in the seated position - something’s gotta change!
SUCH A CRICK IN THE NECK
I have noticed a pattern of ferocious tension headaches that can take days to go away. I can feel the strain in my neck and shoulders; especially when I reach for my keyboard and mouse. Like so many, I am in front of my computer all day. I started looking at my office setup to see what I could change that might make a difference. I don’t know that any one thing is the solution but over the past several weeks, I have made many changes and I haven’t had a headache since. I do feel the strain but am aware now of the source and make time to focus on prevention.
I have to admit that I didn’t think stretching before work could have such a powerful impact and it doesn’t even take much effort or time! I don’t need any crazy equipment and other than my favorite ‘thread the needle’ stretch, if someone were to walk in the office, I am not in a compromising position and can do these from my office chair (or ball).
Of course a massage would be wonderful every day! Who would turn that down? Just need a willing partner… a bribed child…
My solution: Hydromassage bed and massage chair which costs me $20/month (unlimited) at PlanetFitness
I alternate between an exercise ball and an office chair as neither is comfortable for hours on end. The ball is great but can lose air over time causing a slight reach up to my desk. It is so subtle; I didn’t notice it. My office chair was as high as it could go to fit under the desk due to the arms but wasn’t high enough to not cause an unnatural reach. I would push the chair back to raise it higher but then was sitting on the edge.
My solution: Make sure my ball/ chair keeps me at a 90-degree angle; invested in a chair that is more comfortable and put me in the right position. Found mine at Staples http://www.staples.com/Staples-Osgood-Bonded-Leather-Managers-Chairs-Assorted-Colors/product_SS1058639#/id='swatch_416523'
HOW TO CURE OFFICE BUTT
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. Let’s add to that ‘you are shaped by what you sit on’. How many of us even eat lunch at the desk? All those lunches and snacks throughout the day have nowhere to go so they settle in your sitter (which is looking an awful lot like your chair).
We know the answer is to move more. Duh – but how? We have work to do! Even with electronic reminders to get up and not eating lunch at the desk but going for a walk instead, it is not offsetting the effects of a desk job for me. So how can we increase circulation and move during the workday that doesn’t require a costume change, shower while at the office or longer hours?
My solution to get rid of and prevent office butt: Limit the time in the chair
1. Exercise Ball
This provides a change in sittery; allowing movement and changes the pressure points from your chair. (not the kind with the handles- that’s called a hoppity-horse)
Sometimes I just can’t handle the pressure from sitting. I will roll my jacket or anything soft to kneel on for a little bit of time. This is not a good solution for very long periods of time as it puts pressure on your knee joints.
3. Standing desk
This is definitely my next investment! A handful of co-workers have gone this route. It provides the option of standing or sitting as either for very long can be too much. Check it out http://www.staples.com/Ergotron-WorkFit-TL-Sit-Stand-Desktop-Workstation-Black-with-Dark-Grey-Worksuface-25-D-x-37-5-W/product_2094430
4. BONUS: thighmaster
So I have kept my thighmaster with me over many, many years and do love the under-the-desk mini workout it provides. They say it’s good to confuse the muscles; they won’t be expecting this! Wanna increase circulation? Don’t knock it before you try it but BE CAREFUL – it can fly!!
The idea is to change your position frequently so moving between these many options throughout the day has helped me. What works for you?
 Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative