Source (with thanks): Michelle Owen and has featured in the National Business Review (1 Oct, 2010)
We are not designed to sit for long hours in one place! Yet many people work in jobs requiring them to sit all day, usually in front of a computer. If this sounds like you, consider how much stress you are placing on your body. Unless you’re sitting in an appropriately aligned position, at a correct ergonomic workstation, you run the risk of injury, pain and discomfort.
Throughout my many years working with people as a corrective exercise specialist, I have seen, heard and dealt with their pain on a daily basis. Often their problem stems from poor body alignment while sitting, working long hours. Many come to me as a last resort after spending countless hours and dollars seeing various doctors, therapists and specialists to no avail.
Often clients ask me if they should sit on a Swiss ball or some sort of fancy chair to help with the improvement of their body position at work. The truth is it doesn’t matter what you are sitting on, no special chair will resolve things if you don’t know where your body should be to take the stress of the neck, upper or lower back. You can’t even start to improve the pain/discomfort without: Knowing well where the body should be aligned, Appropriate stretching and strengthening to hold it in this position.
As postural muscles gravitate to the wrong position for many hours on a daily basis, they become chronically overworked. This causes them to shorten and tighten which then alters our spinal curvature. Where there are short or tight muscles there have to be weak muscles opposing. (Muscle imbalance) This extremely common muscle imbalance causes nasty things to happen to our bodies. Things like degeneration in the upper and lower spine, prolapsed discs and thoracic (mid back) vertebra that get stuck in flexion causing other vertebra to become too mobile. Trapped nerves, repetitive strain injuries, overuse syndrome, carpel tunnel, nasty headaches, breathing dysfunction; the list goes on! It can also cause Dowagers Hump. (A condition fast becoming a common sight to my trained eye.) This is a fatty deposit (hump) that builds up just below the neck to try and stabilise or do the job of postural muscles that are not working. Visually unpleasant and extremely painful, it zaps our energy! If you already have bad posture and pain, you need more than a correct ergonomic station to rectify it. Your body has become used to being in the wrong position. It now identifies it as the position of strength and normality.
The right position feels almost bizarre to it! As soon as your mind veers off to your work, your body pulls back to your position of strength. To correct this long term, you need to do the associated mobilizations, stretching, and strengthening work alongside having correct ergonomics in place. All must go hand in hand. One without the other is not powerful enough. (See a chek practitioner in your area.)