If you are experiencing pain and stiffness after an extended period of sitting on the job, these tips will help.
1. Check Your Chair
First off, make sure your chair is a good fit. Meaning, many chairs are too deep from front to back and they leave us in a position that isn’t good for our back. We might sit in what we call in the PT world “a posterior pelvic tilt”; which is kind of like slumping. This can put undue pressure on the discs in our back and cause stress and tension on these structures. So one idea is to fill in the back of your chair with a pillow that you can rest into comfortably.
2. Are You A Percher?
If the pendulum swings the other way, meaning you are sitting up too straight or actually perching in your chair, again in the PT word called an “anterior pelvic tilt” this can cause problems as well. This position compresses the spine and posterior disc and can tighten you hip flexor muscle that attaches to your spine and cause pain and stiffness. Once again a pillow behind you in your chair that gives you something to relax into can be helpful. I usually tell these folks….I call them perchers…to exhale and relax their lower rib angles, this helps alleviate tension in the low back.
3. Face The Right Direction
Make sure you are facing your task as best as you can. You want to work from your center. In eastern medicine this region is known as your “hara” your power center. If you are on a computer, keep your mouse of your computer as close as possible so you are not reaching. If you are reaching for something like a file drawer or telephone turn your body to face that direction.
4. Feel Your Sit Bones
Make sure you are not placing all your weight on one side. It’s very common for people to place more weight on their right sit bone as we live in a right handed world and are frequently pulled to the right by a computer mouse or using our right hand for driving or writing. So feel your sit bones equally on your seat, just be aware of where you are at in space can really help.
5. Squeeze And Contract
Do some simple isometrics. This just means things like squeeze your gluts for 30 seconds or do a few kegel exercises. Ie. contract you pelvic floor muscles, you know those muscles that stop the flow of urine. This keeps your muscle working and your blood flowing.
6. Micro Movements Work
Do subtle little micro movements that are imperceptible to someone else and use your breath to create these tiny movements. Just feel how the air going in and out creates small shifts in your rib cage and breathing into your belly or back can simply relax these areas.
7. Assess Your Posture
Have a PT assess your posture and and see if there are more exercises and stretches you can do to alleviate any discomfort. If you are in my area in Southern Oregon I would be happy to give you more tips and ideas about optimizing your posture to help alleviate discomfort.