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Your office chair may be killing your back slowly. Here is how you can fight back

A few simple stretches can go a long way in avoiding complications.  

Updated: Jun 29, 2018, 22:45 PM IST

Can climbing ladders give you back problems that can last years? They can, especially if you are trying to climb up the ladder at work, and are stuck to your chair for hours on end. Not many pay attention to the chairs we spend a significant part of our lives in. And these very chairs may end up causing trouble for us in the long run.

Many of us have desk jobs and are stuck to the chairs our companies have given us all day. Now, not all offices have chairs that are ergonomically designed. And we usually don't pay enough attention to whether we are comfortable in these chairs.

In the long run, poorly designed chairs can give us crushing pain in our backs. Most of us do not even notice that we are developing these back problem over the years. But it is actually very simple to avoid these problems. All you need to do are a few stretches.

Here is a guide to avoiding the back problems your office chair may be giving you:

Avoid a static posture while sitting. Even if you use your office chair properly, sitting for prolonged periods will usually cause fatigue and discomfort. Stand, stretch or walk for at least a few minutes every half hour.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind on your posture:

POSTURE: Focus on aligning your head and neck right above your shoulders; avoid straining forward.

POSTURE: Getting up at least once an hour or just do some shoulder rolls reduces pressure on spinal disks and boosts circulation. you'll be more  less stressed.

POSTURE: Position your knees at 90 degrees, directly over your ankles; this will keep your spine comfortably upright.

POSTURE: Sitting cross-legged makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared, and you risk overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, upping your risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow. So uncross and relax.

And here are a few stretches you can do:

STRETCH: Standing Trunk Extension Stretch
- Stand with your feet shoulders width apart.
- Place your hands in the small of your back for support.
- Slowly lean backward increasing the arch of your lower back until you feel a mild stretch in the abdominal muscles and slight pressure in the lower back.

POSTURE: In each inhale, think about drawing your navel toward your spine; that engages the core muscles and supports the upper body and it's a workout as well.

STRETCH: Seated Lateral Trunk Stretch
- While in a seated position, raise one arm over your head.
- Place your other hand on your thigh for support.
- Slowly bend to the opposite side until you feel a comfortable stretch along the side of your trunk

POSTURE: Your torso should be about an arm's length away from the monitor, which should be 2 to 3 inches above eye level.

STRETCH: Seated Knee to Chest Stretch
- While sitting in a chair, raise one knee as if you are marching until you can reach it with your hands.
- Use both hands to pull the bent knee up toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back and back of the hip.
- Your hands can be on top of your knee or behind your knee for comfort.

POSTURE: Keep them flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart to quiet tension in your knees and ankles.

STRETCH: Seated Hamstring Stretch
- While seated, rest your heel on the floor with your knee straight.
- Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee/thigh.
- You should keep your low back straight to focus the stretch on the hamstring muscles.

These postural changes and stretches can go a long way, not just to avoid back problems in the long run but also help reduce the general fatigue you feel when you finally leave work and go home. Wellness knows no boundaries, whether at work or home. And a little bit here and little bit there can make a huge difference. Take care!

(Vipin Rana is a master rehab trainer who has spent over a decade in the fitness industry. He is an expert on nutrition, fat loss, posture correction, and injury and pain management. He has been certified in metabolic training by the American Council on Exercise. He also works as a presenter on fitness education.) 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)