Osteopath’s Advice: how to get less tired at work

Remember how often you come home from the office feeling like you’ve been unloading wagons all day. But after all, intellectual work, it would seem, should not tire our body so much. What is the point here and how to stop getting tired at work? Says osteopath and cranioposturologist Vladimir Zhivotov.

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Why do we get tired working in the office?

I think everyone is familiar with this skeptical question of loved ones: “And why are you so tired? I spent the whole day at the computer in a cozy room, and you behave as if you were delivering parcels on foot all day!”. But there is a simple answer to this question: the fact is that sitting is not the most physiological load for our body. When we sit, our spine experiences a load twice as much as in the standing position.

The most physiological load is walking. It is useful and natural for our body. That’s why after a long walk we feel better than after sitting at work for eight hours.

The age of information technology dictates its rules to us: the vast majority of residents of large cities spend their working days sitting on a chair in front of a computer. And remember schoolchildren: starting from the first grade, children get used to sitting in one place for most of their day – first at the desk, and then at home, doing homework or playing computer games. And this is instead of a physiological movement! Of course, such “immobility” will definitely affect your posture and general well-being. Lack of motor activity and a sedentary lifestyle inevitably lead to overstrain of the muscles of the shoulder girdle and neck, the muscles of the lower back and hips, stagnation of blood in the pelvis and lower extremities. In the future, this can develop into eye fatigue, varicose veins of the lower extremities, rectum and even genitals.

Step 1: Choose comfortable furniture

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If it is impossible to avoid sedentary work, you need to make your workdays as comfortable as possible. Workplace ergonomics is the first and most important step to the health of an office worker. Most modern office chairs and chairs have a reverse tilt of the seat. That is, a person sitting down to work, as it were, rolls down to the back of an armchair or chair. This is very inconvenient for our musculoskeletal system. Ideally, the seat of the chair should lean forward by about 4 degrees so that the person moves slightly forward from it. Then he will have to rest his feet so as not to fall off the chair. This will bring the legs into a slight tension, and will involve the muscles of the entire back surface of the body – from the feet to the neck. They will create a natural support for maintaining a straight posture.

As for the height of office furniture, it is selected according to the individual characteristics of each person. When choosing the height of the chair, it should be borne in mind that the knee and hip joints ideally need to be bent at an angle close to straight. The correct height of the table is such that you do not have to bend down or, conversely, lift your shoulders to put your elbows on the table. You can put an inclined support under your feet so that your feet do not stand on a flat floor, but at a slight angle. Maybe you remember the old school desks, sitting at which children put their feet on such an emphasis. It was believed that if the student’s feet are on an inclined support, then his handwriting will be better. The fact is that with such a stand under your feet it is easier to maintain the vertical position of the trunk. The movements associated with the shoulder girdle will also be performed easier and more relaxed. 

Chair Office Chair

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Step 2: Install the computer correctly

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If you pick up a chair and a table for yourself, adjust their height, and then incorrectly put a computer on this table, all your efforts will be in vain. Working at a computer is another factor that provokes office fatigue syndrome. If you work with a mouse, the elbow of the working hand must necessarily lie on the table, otherwise the entire weight of the hand will fall on the cervical spine. A mouse pad with a gel pad under the wrist will allow you to relieve the shoulder muscles. By supporting your elbow and wrist, you will help your neck. Pay attention to the height of the monitor. Ideally, it should be adjusted so that when looking at the screen, you do not bend down, but look straight ahead. The monitor should be at eye level. Otherwise, the neck muscles will strain excessively, which will hinder the flow of blood to the brain and eyes. 

Step 3: Take a comfortable pose

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As soon as you organize your workplace according to all the rules, your body will sit down the way it needs to. But if you do not have the opportunity to choose furniture for yourself yet, it is worth learning the most physiological and correct pose for work. If you have to lean back in the computer chair, make sure that your back has a good support. When you lean only on the buttocks and on the lower thoracic vertebrae, the lower back sagges, and the spine stretches in an arc. To maintain the lumbar deflection and support the lower back, put something soft between the back and the lower back. To do this, you can use a soft supportive pillow. Thus, you will remove excessive load from the muscles, ligaments and joints of the lumbar spine.

Step 4: Take Breaks

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And let’s remember the school again. How long do the lessons last? 45 minutes. Even couples at the university are separated by a five-minute break, forming two halves of 45 minutes each. This period of time is not chosen by chance: it is after 45 minutes that a person’s ability to concentrate falls, and at the same time your productivity also falls (a good argument for the boss!). Therefore, every 45 minutes it is important to arrange five minutes of movement: get up, stretch, stretch, walk so that the muscles do not stiffen in the same position. Then you will retain the freedom and flexibility of the spine and neck, and the brain will receive more nutrients, which will automatically increase the efficiency of your work.

And in conclusion – an important rule, without which it will not be easy to achieve well-being in the office. Be sure to ventilate the room! If you start to feel sleepy during work, this is a sure sign of an excess of carbon dioxide in the air. The window is wide open — and a five-minute rest! 

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An osteopathic doctor. In addition to working in medicine, he runs a blog about health on Instagram. He also developed a manual direction – cranioposturology (patented the craniobalance method), which is considered more effective than classical osteopathy.

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