Of all the advice I can give as an ergonomics consultant, the best one is – change position frequently. Here are some of the reasons why:
Your blood needs to move. Blood is oxygenated and filled with healing agents for your body. If you don’t move your body, blood doesn’t flow and your body can’t heal itself. You could then end up with a Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD).
Your muscles need to move. When you don’t move your muscles, they can’t rid themselves of waste material and toxins. As a result, they seize up and get sore resulting in muscle cramps. Also, your muscles shorten and get tight which puts pressure on your bones and nerves. Tight hamstrings can cause sore backs; tight shoulder muscles can cause headaches.
Your spine needs to move. After sitting or standing for long periods of time, your spine compresses. Unfortunately with time, this compression can result in a herniated disc.
So how do you get in the habit of changing position frequently? The first thing you need to do is get yourself a timer. Use your phone or an online timer. Set the timer for a maximum of 20 minutes, less if you can. Every 20 minutes do one of the following.
1. If you’re sitting, get up and walk for 20 seconds.
2. If you’re standing, sit down for 20 seconds.
3. Do a stretch – hold it for 30 seconds.
- Put your right arm overhead and lean to the left. Do the same with the left arm.
- Grab the back of your office chair while sitting and twist to one side. Twist to the other.
- Stand, bend one leg behind you and grab your ankle to stretch the front of your thigh. Repeat with the other leg.
4. Do an exercise.
- March in place.
- Swing your arms around your body.
- Hang your head and rotate from side to side.
5. Change your position.
- If you’re sitting against your backrest, lean forward and back a few times.
- Push yourself up off your chair with your armrests, raising your hips off the chair seat.
- If you’re standing, rest one leg on a footrest 6-8 inches above the ground.
Be creative! Anything you can do to move your body will help. Even the often-condemned slouching is a different position and is good for your body in small doses. And don’t forget to keep at it. Once you form the habit of moving, you’ll never go back to staying in one place. And now that you’ve finished reading this, it’s time to move.