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7 Ways to Improve Your Spine Health While Working a Desk Job

February 5, 2024 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Photo of a man holding his neck and grimacing in pain while working on a laptop

In today’s digital age, many people spend a significant portion of their day sitting at a desk. Prolonged sitting and incorrect spinal alignment can lead to various spine-related issues, including back pain, stiffness and postural imbalances.

By implementing a few simple tricks, it is possible to improve spine health and minimize the risks associated with desk work. Below, we outline seven effective strategies to help you get started.

1. Create a comfortable workstation

A healthy workspace is crucial for promoting good posture and reducing strain on the spine. Begin by ensuring that your chair supports the natural curve of your lower back and provides adequate lumbar support. Position your monitor at eye level to avoid straining your neck. Additionally, maintain a neutral position for your wrists and elbows, and keep your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest if needed.

2. Regular movement and stretching

Sitting for extended periods can lead to muscle stiffness and reduced circulation. Incorporate regular movement and stretching breaks into your work routine. Every 30 minutes, stand up, walk around and perform simple stretches to relieve tension in your neck, shoulders and back.

3. Core strengthening exercises

A strong core provides stability and support to the spine. Engage in regular exercises that target the core muscles, such as planks and yoga poses like the cat-camel and child’s pose stretches. Strengthening these muscles helps you maintain proper posture and reduces the load on your spine.

4. Posture awareness

Maintaining good posture while sitting is essential for spine health. Sit with your back straight, shoulders relaxed and both feet flat on the floor. Avoid slouching or hunching over the desk, as this can strain your back and neck. Consider using a lumbar roll or cushion to support the natural curve of your lower back.

5. Try a standing desk

Standing desks are a great option to reduce the amount of time spent sitting. Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day helps alleviate pressure on the spine, engages your muscles and improves circulation. Find a balance that works for you by adjusting your desk height accordingly. If you don’t have a standing desk, you can stack books under your computer monitor or create a makeshift standing desk if you work off a laptop.

6. Proper lifting techniques

Whether it’s lifting a heavy object or moving files, always use proper lifting techniques to avoid unnecessary strain on your spine. Bend your knees, engage your core and lift with your legs rather than your back. Additionally, ask for assistance when dealing with heavy or bulky items.

7.  Supportive footwear

Believe it or not, your choice of footwear can impact your spine health. Opt for supportive shoes that provide cushioning and stability. Avoid high heels or shoes with inadequate arch support, as they can alter your posture and lead to spine misalignment. If heels are a must, bring a backup pair of flats and use those when you can to take some pressure off those feet.

Spending long hours at a desk doesn’t have to be detrimental to your spine health. By following these recommendations, your back will thank you, and you’ll experience a more comfortable and productive workday.

Hayley Campbell, MD, is a board-certified Physiatrist at Huntsville Hospital’s Spine & Neuro Center.

Hayley Campbell, MD, is a board-certified Physiatrist at Huntsville Hospital’s Spine & Neuro Center. She specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and provides patients with expert care for non-surgical spine treatments. Call (256) 533-1600 to make an appointment today.

Click here to learn more about Huntsville Hospital’s Spine & Neuro Center and our providers.