Below are 5 ideas of environmental changes that you can make to help your spine to function as it was intended despite our modern sedentary lifestyle:
- Create an ergonomic office setup: The biggest spinal concern when it comes to office-based work is the sheer amount of time people spend without movement. However, if you must stay in one spot for a prolonged period then you are better off with a tall relaxed posture. Some quick easy alterations to make in favour of your spine are to make sure that the upper part of the screen is all eye level when you sit tall and that the shoulders can hang relaxed while the elbows are at 90 degrees and the fingers rest on the keyboard.
- Setup a home exercise area: When it comes to keeping up a consistent exercise routine one of the hardest things is to get out the door. One way to make it easier on yourself to get started is to have everything ready to go right in your home. It can be in your spare room or right next to the TV. It does not need to be complex either… a yoga mat and a foam roller or a kettlebell can be a good starting point. The main thing is that it is easy to use and is placed in your field of vision because when it comes to spinal health frequent full range spinal movement is the key to long-term success.
- Get a step counting smart watch: A great practice for sedentary office workers to increase spinal health is to go for a 30 min walk over lunch or at the end of the workday to break up the long periods of sitting. A smartwatch (or a good old step counter) can be a good motivator to keep track of your progress and consistency with this habit. 10 000 steps a day is a good goal to work towards for most people.
- Create a standing workstation: The best office setup initiative that I have ever made for my spinal health was to get a standing desk. It is a lot easier to keep your spine in a healthy alignment while standing compared to sitting. Prolonged periods of sitting leads to slouching and forward head carriage which over time leads to spinal degenerative changes.
- Get a 90cm posture-rehab foam roller: Lying on a posture pole or foam roller for 15 min at the end of the day can be a great habit to elongate the spine after a day of slouching. Personally, I like to keep my foam roller visible by the TV or on the bed to increase the likelihood of keeping up with this healthy spinal habit.