5 Steps to a Painfree Workspace

Do you ever find yourself with work-related neck, shoulder, or back pain? Try this awareness exercise that, in 5 steps, can change how you sit:  

Step 1

Sit in your chair and, if you have a mirror, take a look at how you're sitting.

green-light-seated

red-light-seated

The Green Light posture is one with an arched back with the weight pitched forward. The back muscles are contracted from the tailbone up to the base of the neck.

The Red Light posture is one with a rounded back, and slumped neck and shoulders, with the weight in back of the pelvis.

 

 

Both postures are very common in those who work on computers all day long. Arched or rounded, either extreme can create chronic muscular pain. We adapt to our environment in order to make our job easier, so how you sit is merely a habit - a form of adaptation.

Step 2

Now close your eyes and sit up to your normal sense of straight. Look in the mirror. Are you arched? Rounded? Notice how you feel, but don't try to change it. Now close your eyes.

Step 3

Inhale and arch, letting your head tip back. Relax your belly and let your pelvis move. Then exhale and round gently, letting your head drop down. Repeat 2-3 times.

Slowly come back up to neutral ("straight"). Sense your weight. Is it on top of your sitbones? In front? In back. Do some self adjustment. Rock side to side on your sit-bones. Feel your hip flexors at the groin line. Are they relaxed?

When you feel relaxed and balanced, open your eyes. See if your internal sensations agree with what you see in the mirror. If you're still arched or rounded, close your eyes and do it again until your internal sense of your back muscles agrees with what you see in the mirror.  This exercise can permanently change the way in which you sit. You'll be able to sit effortlessly without fatigue.

Step 4

Repeat this exercise several times a day until your feel that you've successfully "reprogrammed" yourself to sit correctly.

Step 5

Place your hands up to your keypad. Notice where your arms are; your shoulders should be relaxed, not raised and tense. Sense your shoulders. Are you holding them up in order to reach the keypad? Are you tightening your shoulders down?

The key is: AWARENESS - REPETITION -  SELF-CORRECTION

For those of you who discover after doing this exercise, that your workspace is  ergonomically out of sync with your new-found seated posture, you'll probably want to change the placement of your workstation.