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Keeping a Healthy Spine at School and Work

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iStock_000067506587_LargeSchool is just around the corner! During the summer, it is normally much easier to stay active with weekend getaways and weekly summer outdoor activities. As we shift into a busier fall season, people may neglect their health for the sake of productivity – whether it’s sitting at your desk at school or at work, or even transporting books and laptops. It’s important for people to keep active while working to minimize the risk of developing musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries or conditions.

Did you know? The countless hours of sitting you do will eventually add up and takes a toll on your body and posture. If you slouch over your desk while typing or reading, you decrease function of your lungs and put pressure on other internal organs, which can affect ability to breathe and function properly. Also, your circulation, especially in legs, could be compromised. To prevent developing various MSK conditions from working or studying, we’ve shared helpful tips below to maintain a healthy spine and MSK system.

1. Use the Straighten Up Canada App Daily

This free app has a series of videos that will lead you through a 3-minute routine that can help you improve your posture. The app is a great way to get you moving during your workday. Once you are familiar with the videos – whether you’re taking your break at work, school, or home – you will be able to fit the short exercises into your daily routine. By following the program, you will feel better and increase your spine’s mobility and function.

2. Set Up Your Office Space Ergonomically

Lower your computer monitor so that it is at eye level to prevent you from slouching downwards or tilting your head up. Raise your chair and adjust the keyboard and mouse to maintain your arms in a relaxed position and an “open” angle of the elbows. If possible, try to turn your body instead of only your head to speak to a colleague or look away from your screen.1 For more information, you can also check out CCA’s Four Back-Saving Tips for the Office.

3. Carry Right, Carry Light

If you carry your laptop to and from work every day, or your books to school – be mindful of how the weight is distributed in your bag. Laptop bags are usually swung over one shoulder, which can take a toll on your spine, increasing your risk of injury. A properly fitted backpack can help prevent additional strain on your body for both children and adults.

4.  Take a 15 Minute Break

Taking frequent breaks throughout the day to walk around the office will help relieve the strain of sitting on your body.  Aside from short breaks, try to take a few 15 minutes breaks, and make at least one of those breaks more active. The Fit-In 15 program is perfect for those people who want to stay active even at work or at school. The program allows you to build your own 15 minute workout from a menu of simple activities at no cost to you, making it simple to commit to exercise at work.

 5. Stretch It Out

Perform simple stretches frequently throughout the day to release the tension in your shoulders and back. Even if you need to perform the stretches while sitting, it’s enough to relieve some stress and strain from your back and promote blood flow to the area. The Straighten Up Canada app is great for this, but even simple neck and arm stretches can help.

It’s really easy to forget about time when focusing on what you’re doing at work or school. Yet, your body may benefit from movement throughout the day. Take a few moments during your day to do some stretches or light physical activity. Once you introduce activity into your routine, you will likely be more energized and ultimately, productive.

For more tips that can help you at work and school, check out our Back Care Tips and work toward a healthier spine.

1. Computer worksation ergonomics(2009). University of California. https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/hr/hrdepts/work_comp/Computer_Workstation_Manual.pdf
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