In some offices, traditional seating is giving way to balls, swinging chairs or standing workstations. These new features are really beneficial to our health and particularly for the spine.
This topic was covered by Dr. Stephen Respizzi, physiatrist and director of the orthopedic rehabilitation department in Humanitas, in an interview published on the prestigious Corriere.it.
The role of the abdominals
“The most practical way to work on the computer is sitting, but over time this posture has caused major changes in our life and health because the continuation of this position greatly reduces the muscle strength of the abdominals. Both the lateral and oblique abdominal muscles that keep your back upright are affected. When we sit, these muscles relax, resulting in problems like back pain, neck pains and muscle tension”, explains Dr. Respizzi.
Ergonomic chairs and tilting balls
Excersize balls on which you sit, require a continuous tension of the abdominal muscles to maintain balance. Its not the easiest way to work, as it requires a real workout. “When sitting on the ball all day, you keep moving your abdominal muscles, lower back and neck causing them to remain alert and tense. It is a very positive continuous stimulation”, explains Dr. Respizzi.
Rocker chairs are made of wood and are ergonomic, they can add tension to your knees or shins, depending on your height. One must keep in mind that one solution does not fit all, because maintaining a posture where your knees are bent might be a problem. Furthermore, “compared to the ball, lateral muscles are not usually stimulated in rocking chairs”, adds Dr. Respizzi.
Dr. Respizzi believes that working while standing is not ideal. “We are not used to it, and so the negative aspects are likely to exceed the benefits. In the long run, especially if you stand still in front of a computer you may hurt your legs causing peripheral fluids to stagnate. Also you should wear compression stockings if your job requires you to stand and take care of your arm’s position as the weight must be loaded downwards and not hung”.