Most people know that sitting all day at work isn’t exactly the healthiest lifestyle, but, unfortunately, this is often a necessary condition of most people’s jobs. Many people aren’t familiar, however, with all of the potential health risks associated with prolonged sitting. Sure, sitting can result in poor overall health due to the lack of physical activity it obviously entails, but there are number of other consequences associated with prolonged sitting as well. For example, being seated all day at a desk can result in lower back pain, neck pain, bad posture, weak muscles in both the core and the gluteus maximus, and a number of other ergonomics-related health issues.
While selecting the right office chair could help to alleviate some of these symptoms, many of them, such as the muscle weakness and poor posture, are largely unavoidable with any type of traditional chair, no matter how ergonomically conscious. Therefore, a new trend is emerging: the use of exercise balls in the office. While replacing your desk chair with an exercise ball might not be appropriate for every office building, if your boss is open to you making the switch, consider the following three reasons to do so today:
1. They force you to change positions.
One of the most important pieces of advice for proper ergonomics is to change positions frequently. This helps to prevent you from relying on the same muscles continuously, which usually causes people to strain the muscles or place undue stress on them. Exercise balls, having no back and lacking even feet, are somewhat mobile, which forces you to change positions as frequently as is recommended.
2. They help you to align your spine properly.
Exercise balls aren’t instant, miraculous posture solutions, but they can be hugely beneficial. Because they’re backless, sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair encourages you to maintain proper posture because if you happen to slouch, you’ll feel and notice it almost immediately. The ball also helps to align your spine, because, in the process of balancing yourself atop the ball, you’ll also learn to center yourself. This centering acts to reduce the stress placed on the spine caused by bad posture and can help to significantly reduce back, shoulder, and neck pain.
3. They help to strengthen.
Exercise balls are inherently good for you. Because they are unstable and you are attempting to remain stationary perched atop them, your body will be forced to work harder than it would on a regular chair. Not only does this improve your sense of balance, but it also helps to strengthen some of the very muscles that traditional office chairs serve to weaken. The stabilization muscles are located mostly in your core, so, if you use an exercise ball, you engage those muscles and help to strengthen them just by sitting at your desk. And for those users who fear that they’ll become tired of working to stabilize themselves throughout the day and think they’ll need a break, there are chair-type stands available for your exercise balls. These – like this balance ball chair made by Gaiam – are relatively cheap (especially when compared to the price of a traditional chair) and can help to provide you with a little bit of a rest period if you feel you need one.
Although exercise balls certainly won’t fix all of the health issues associated with sitting at a computer all day, they can help to make your time at work a bit healthier. They can help to strengthen your core, which is often weakened by traditional chairs, and they also help you to maintain proper spinal posture and alignment. Finally, because they’re so mobile and bouncy, using an exercise ball forces you to change positions frequently, thereby saving you from the dangers of sitting in one position for too long.
Request an Online Office Ergonomic Evaluation
Contact Daniel Baumstark, Washington, D.C.’s physical therapist, to obtain an ergonomic evaluation for your office, desk and work environment. Office ergonomic evaluations can be submitted online along with a couple pictures of your desk and seating.