Have you ever thought what serious health problems you would face if you sat at your work station for long hours without breaks? If you haven’t, then there are enough reasons to take breaks.
Let’s list some of the problems you would face if your work involves long hours of sitting, all of which are serious.
- You would experience high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.
- Then there’s diabetes. Cells in muscles do not readily respond to insulin produced by pancreas. Due to this, pancreas produces more insulin, which can cause diabetes.
- People can also experience hyperlordosis, tight hips and lump glutes if they are leading a sedentary life-style.
- Your spinal structure can go for a toss. There’s the risk of disc damage, development of an inflexible spine, strained neck, sore shoulders and severe back problems.
Heightened stress is another major consequence of an imperfect work pattern that does not involve much movement of the body. Muscles in motion trigger the release of mood enhancing hormones by supplying fresh blood and oxygen through the brain. But if you stay static for too long without any movement, stress is the result. The more you stay static, greater the stress.
One also develops deep vein thrombosis in the legs, which is a leg disorder. When you don’t move much, the blood flow causes a puddle in the legs, leading to the disorder.
These are all problems that are seen most often in corporate offices where employees spend 10 to 12 hours a day working on computers. Corporate offices have realised how risky this work pattern could be to employees, which not only causes health problems, but also lowers their productivity and ultimately the productivity of the company itself.
All these risks are reasons why corporate offices are looking at new work patterns. You now get to see standing work desk, ergonomic sessions as part of the work-flow pattern, awareness programmes on exercises and the need to sit straight on the seat. Bosses also don’t mind if staffers take a five-minute break to walk and loosen the muscles in the legs, spine, shoulder and hand. This is to be done to avoid disc damage, strained neck and a swayed back.
Most of the patients who come to me with postural problems are from the corporate sector. I would say that if employees are working long hours and face any of the above symptoms, then they would be better off taking an X-ray or MRI scan. If there are confirmed problems, physiotherapy sessions would be welcome.
What do we need to do to avoid all these problems?
- Do some neck exercises in which you sit straight and drop head slowly to one side, taking ear toward the shoulder. Make sure that you feel the stretch and perform this daily for 5 minutes.
- The sitting posture must be straight. Ensure that you sit in an upright position without crouching. Additionally, ensure that you get good back rest with feet flat on floor.
- Stretching your body is a major necessity. Stretch your legs and arms every hour in office. When you are at home, stretch hip flexors every evening/morning for 5 minutes per side.
- There’s nothing like taking a stroll. A five-minute break in the work schedule every hour to two hours would be refreshing as it improves blood circulation.
- But probably the best solution would be the classical solution - yoga. Performing yoga either in the morning or evening would be every good. It keeps you both physiologically and psychologically healthy - you would be calm and you would be less stressed.
Dr. Naveenchand Dambekodi(Consultant Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon)
Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal