Workers Endure Unnecessary Pain: Sit Up and Do Something About It

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Office workers acknowledge pain, but too often accept it as a normal part of working at a desk. “Pain from poor workplace posture does not have to be a fact of life, “says Ms. Larkin

Most of us wouldn’t poke ourselves with a sharp stick or put a hand on a hot stove and leave it there. Yet every day America’s workers do the equivalent, causing their own lower back pain and stiffening necks when a few simple adjustments can alleviate the pain.

Ergonomic chairs that made news in the 1970s are now commonplace in today’s offices; however the average American office worker still sits hunched over his or her desk. Marilynn Larkin, who is on a mission to spread posture awareness in the workplace, notes that “the right chair is a great help, but you can sit poorly on a great chair and you can sit properly on a wooden bench.”

Office workers acknowledge the pain, but too often accept it as a normal part of working at a desk. “Pain from poor workplace posture does not have to be a fact of life, “says Ms. Larkin. “Much of the nagging back and neck pain that many office workers endure is a result of improper body alignment. Continuing bad posture habits can cause pain to increase over time and may lead to serious complications. We need to become aware of how we’re sitting and make some changes.”

What can we do? Ms. Larkin suggests aligning your head (which weighs between 8 and 12 pounds) over your neck and your neck over your torso. “Your body is built to support its own weight, but we have to help it along. Keep your shoulders down and back, elbows relaxed at your sides, and feet fully supported by the floor or a foot rest. Knees should be about the same height as the hips. Don’t hunch or lean over to reach your keyboard. You’ll ruin your natural alignment and put pressure on your spine and neck.”

Sitting in a good working position can benefit others as well. “My posture workshop participants have said that when they feel better — pain-free and confident — their relationships with their coworkers and customers improve,” says Ms. Larkin. “Improving posture is a ‘win-win’ for everyone.”

Marilynn Larkin, an American Council on Exercise (ACE)-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, is the creator of Posture cize® (http://www.posture-cize.com), an exercise and motivational program to improve posture and self esteem. She is also an award-winning medical editor and journalist and the author of five health books for the general public.

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Marilynn Larkin, please call Yvonne Shortt at 718-478-8538.

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