TAMPA, Fla. - Sue Fortner spends at least seven hours a day working at her desk. Recently, she started sitting on a ball all day. "I wanted to strengthen my core area and relieve the pressure on my lower back."
Chiropractor Barry Shapiro says that's good if you're using the ball for exercise but if you're "using it in place of a chair, after a while you have a tendency to lean forward. You're now not only not helping the core but you're hurting the upper back and neck," he said.
Shapiro demonstrates how bad habits, improperly designed work stations and body mechanics can cause you pain and discomfort in the work place.
Problems can start by basically sitting wrong at your desk - ball or no ball. "If you're sitting up on one leg, or men have a tendency to put their wallet in their back pocket, it's like sitting on a lift. When you have a lift on one side your picking up the pelvis up on one side and that creates an imbalance that the rest of the spine has to compensate for," Shapiro said.
Doctor Shapiro, who has treated me for back pain related to work, says we probably all make these simple mistakes at one time or another :
1 - Holding your phone with your chin and neck.
2 - Not sitting square with your computer screen.
3 - Having your screen at a level that is too high or too low. Shapiro says, "They'll lean over and twist and try to pull a file and yank it up with one arm and that changes the weight ratio in the lower back sometimes up to 15 to 1."
4 - Sitting with your feet hanging - make sure your feet are always flat on the floor
Chiropractor Nelson Mane says your keyboard should be close to you. As for using a standing work desk? Mane says, "You don't want to be fixed in one position. You want to get up every hour or so and stretch but I wouldn't want you to stand all day either," he said.
Or you'll end up with a different set of problems.
Simple changes to your desk top may help alleviate pain from repetitive motion.
Tomorrow look at your desk at work and ask yourself how long your phone has been in the same place and how often you answer it with the same motion. So move it to the other side of your desk and use a head set for a while.
Dr Shapiro has put together more simple rules regarding your neck and back that will help you avoid pain and discomfort. To see that list head over to my Facebook page. Look for Linda Hurtado WFTS under pages and click like: https://www.facebook.com/LindaHurtadoWFTS?ref=br_tf