Some say that sitting is the new smoking.
While it may be true that spending all day, every day in front of a computer might not be ideal for your health, that’s just the reality most of us live in today.
Whether you’re a developer, data scientist, growth hacker, or you have any other role in a tech company, your job most likely requires long hours in front of the screen,
But you may have noticed some annoying aches and pains around your body. It could be that your neck starts hurting after a while, or perhaps your back starts tightening up.
You may also start experiencing joint issues in your wrists, elbows, or knees, from prolonged sitting (possibly in bad posture) and working on a desk that’s not suited to your body.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost one-third of work-related injuries include musculoskeletal issues like muscle strains or carpal-tunnel syndrome.
Many of them happen to people working in labor-intensive jobs like in factory lines, but many others are from desk workers.
But there’s good news. You can take steps to prevent damage to your body from sitting too long.
Let’s look at some of the things that you can do.
Protect your joints
According to Harvard Medical school, those with joint inflammation conditions like osteoarthritis are more likely to suffer from knee pain when sitting for too long.
It could also be something like patellofemoral pain (PFP), or runner’s knee (which is not caused by running, but rather due to running with bad form and imbalances).
If you take care of your joints, then they’d be better equipped to handle more stress. Like when you sit through a 14-hour long deep work session.
What can you do to improve your joint health?
For one, you can lift weights. Strength training has been proven to increase bone density and strengthen joints.
You can also support your joints by eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals (read fruits and vegetables).
Taking a collagen protein powder (the protein that provides structure to bones, joints, skin, etc.) can also prevent damage to your joints.
You can try Naked Collagen from Naked Nutrition. They source their collagen from pasture-raised cows in Europe, and it is free of artificial sweeteners and additives.
Start doing yoga
If you’re sitting for long periods in an unoptimized workspace, then you’re slowly, but surely, damaging your body.
Now think of yoga as the thing that reverses that damage and actually improves your health and fitness.
There are countless benefits of doing yoga, like reduced stress, better alignment, improved fitness, and coordination, just to name a few.
But when it comes to posture and balance, there’s probably nothing better.
Yoga will improve your core, strengthen your lower back, and make sure that you’re equally strong on both sides of your body.
In a typical yoga session, you’ll be working on your neck, lower back, hips, core muscles, and more. Those are all areas of your body that are under stress when you sit too long.
Not to mention, yoga also promotes optimal weight management.
If you maintain a healthy weight, it’ll be easier for your musculoskeletal structure to handle the load when you’re sitting. Or doing anything else, for that matter.
Not everyone has control over their workspace. But in 2020, with so many of us working from home, it might be the ideal opportunity to give your workspace an ergonomic makeover.
In simple terms, that means designing your workspace in a way that promotes better health.
Not only will be better for your health, but it will also increase your productivity.
Here are some specific things that you can do.
Chair - Get a chair that supports your spine. It should support your lower back and take the pressure away from it. Otherwise, your lower back has to handle your upper body weight all day long, and the load could get to be a bit much eventually.
Chair height - Make sure that your chair height is set in a way that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet can rest flat on the ground.
Armrest - Your chair should have an armrest. It should be set in a way that when you rest your arms, your shoulders stay relaxed, instead of getting hunched.
Monitor position - Position your monitor in a way that the top of the screen is at eye level approximately. That way, you’re not putting too much strain on your neck muscles but having to look down or look up all day long. The monitor should also remain about an arm’s length away to minimize strain to your eyes.
Blink regularly - It’s not just about your joints. Computer eye strain is a real thing. Take a few moments periodically to blink about 20-30 times. Blinking promotes tear production to keep your eyes moisturized.
Sitting is almost unavoidable if you have a typical role in a technology company.
So, instead of thinking about how to not sit for too long to prevent damage, we might as well shift the focus.
We should consider how we can strengthen our body so that it can handle the added stress from sitting?
Take some time to plan how you can optimize your workspace. And see if you can find a yoga class online (or in your neighborhood) that you like.
Finally, remember to eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals to further support your joints.