So sitting is the new smoking? Maybe, if sitting was new. Sitting causes diabetes? Yeh, right - prove that one! There appear to be links to a sedentary lifestyle and many health issues, changing your desk is unlikely to be the one stop solution your looking for. There are lots of wild claims so i've steered clear of writing about it. There's been a lot written on the subject of sit stand desks. Some of it links to medical reports making claims about the health of the workplace. Some of it drawing wild conclusions that don't stack up. So are they any good? In short, yes. But installing a row of sit stand desks for a bunch of people that rarely stand during the day is unlikely to make much difference to their health. The problem is not so much the lack of a sit stand desk in most peoples working lives, but routine, office layouts and habits that have engrained over the years so that we sit by default. You have a small meeting room, designed for short meetings for up to 4 people. There's a desk and 4 chairs in there. Maybe a speaker phone too. Why? There's a space in reception for visitors to park a laptop and their backside while they wait. Wouldn't a standing height bench be better? That hot desk at the end of the row: it's rarely used for more than 10 minutes at a time, is it the best set up? By providing equipment that encourages people to move and adopt the correct posture, we're creating a culture of wellbeing and mindfulness in everyone. Think of it like food. If i'm in an office that's kind enough to have bowls of biscuits lying around, I will eat them, and on the way home, maybe grab a pizza from Tesco. If those same bowls had fruit in them, I'm much more likely to give my evening meal more thought.
Seems there's a 'Day' for everything these days, but being in the trade it felt wrong to let this one pass without a few words. First, I had to head over to www.worldspineday.org to find out what it's all about. And it seems they have it pretty well covered in the title, but here's the first paragraph anyway: "Taking place on October 16 each year, World Spine Day has become a focus in raising awareness of back pain and other spinal issues. With health professionals, exercise and rehabilitation experts, public health advocates, schoolchildren and patients all taking part, World Spine Day will be celebrated on every continent." Ok, so i'm being a little glib here. We all know that our spines are important, and brilliant. With 33 separate vertebrae connected by ligaments and muscles it's a remarkable and complex structure. It's also prone to going wrong, as demonstrated by the need for a #worldspineday. worldspineday.org says that 1 billion people suffer from back pain. I guess it depends on how you define 'suffer', but I reckon the true figure is nearer 7 billion. I don't know anyone that doesn't suffer from back pain sometimes. I wouldn't say that I 'suffer' but it does ache sometimes. I never get an arm ache. The theme for World Spine Day is "get spine active". I've seen first hand the effect that failing to look after your spine can have on a life, so it's always been close to the front of my mind. I don't stress about it, but I do remain mindful of my back and the forces being exerted on it. So if something needs lifting and I don't think I can safely, it stays right where it is until a safe solution can be found. I don't do much in the way of 'exercise', I try to build activity into my routine. If I've got time, I walk. If I haven't got time, but don't need to carry anything, I cycle. Like most people, I spend a lot of my time sitting. And for a lot of people this is the cause of their problem. The spine doesn't like to sit. There's a reason every skeleton you've ever seen has the legs hanging off the bottom, not perched up at right angles. It doesn't like to sit, and it doesn't like to be still. But I bang on enough about sitting, here and elsewhere so I'll spare you this time... I don't enjoy resistance training. There was a time when I was younger when I thought you had to go to a gym, engage with weird machines and lift stuff. It always hurt something eventually. Fortunately, this phase of my life passed quite quickly, and without serious injury. I'm not saying don't go to a gym. If you like it, go. I didn't, so I don't. I do enjoy walking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking and rock climbing. While it is of course possible to hurt yourself doing any of these things, they all require the whole body to move in a natural way, while exerting very little pressure on any one area. I should probably say that kayakers are prone to shoulder injuries. But swimming in particular is a brilliant way of moving everything without exerting undue pressure anywhere. So what do you do to keep your spine active?
With a gym on every corner how is it that back issues have become such a big part of so many of our lives? This short video brilliantly encapsulates this. But what are the answers? Will your pain go away if you go and drop a grand on an ergonomic chair? Maybe. Maybe not. Must I go to a gym <shudders>? Life is complicated, and the solution to back pain lies in a holistic approach to it. Maybe we do need to do more exercise, be more selective of what we eat, drink less. But there are many things that we do, almost without thinking that contribute to our passive present. I heard on the radio that 60% of all car journey within Exeter are less than one mile long. It's much quicker to walk one mile than drive, park, get ticket from machine, walk to where you need to be. Got less than 3 floors to go up? Use the lift. Again, probably quicker too. An all inclusive hotel I went to once put the free bar on the seventh floor. By the time I got down again I needed to turn round and start over! Going to the supermarket, parking at work, visiting grandma? Battling for the space nearest to the door? Take the one nearest the exit. The one theme that runs through this text and the video is movement. The more we move, the more healthy we will be. Eat half, walk double, love without measure.
Just served a customer who bought a chair a while back from a shop that doesn't specialise in chairs. She's been in so much pain ever since she was really concerned there was some serious damage. The pain was so bad it took her a while to realise the chair was the cause. How could it be? She's been using chairs all her life, they've never hurt before, this one was shaped like a chair. There was nothing right about her purchase. It wasn't suitable for her workstation, and it didn't fit her, the ensuing pain was inevitable. The seat base was too deep for her so circulation was restricted at her knees, and her back wasn't being supported at all. The opening at the base of her desk wasn't wide enough to get the chair base into so she was having to reach forward to read and type. There's probably nothing inherently wrong with the chair, but whoever sold it took no time to understand what it was being used for or the limitations of where it was going to be. Taking time to understand the client, and her workstation it was clear to me that a 'traditional' seat wasn't right for her. We had 3 products that would have worked, but by taking our time and assessing all the parameters she walked away the proud owner of a Salli Swing. It fits under her desk, her posture is terrific and her pain has gone. We spend a lot of time sitting down, and investing in the right chair for the job will promote the health and well being of the user, and can make the difference between a full productive day, or a week off in bed with back pain. The cost? Less than a weeks wages. Don't suffer on the wrong chair, it's not necessary and it's not worth it.
Maybe you do! I served three customers today, and not one of them needed a new one. Good chairs can be deceptively complex. The Hag Sofi is an elegant chair. It's controls have been beautifully incorporated into the chair, so much so, that this owner didn't realise it had a seat slide. It was bought for the husband, his wife thought it was too big for her. Of course I would have loved to have sold her another chair, they were prepared to buy one, but this customer simply did not need one, and after a little instruction, they were on their way. Then we had a customer who had a very old RH Logic 4. This chair was launched 34 years ago, and it broke. It had exceeded it's warranty by up to 24 years so again, the owner was prepared to purchase a replacement. But he didn't really want to, and all these years later, he's still reaping the rewards of a wise choice. RH still have the parts, I fitted them, and again, on his merry way the customer went. The last visitor had a genuine warranty claim. Fortunately he'd bought the chair from a proper shop (as opposed to an online one, or worse still a foreign one), the supplier sent the replacement part overnight, and I was able to fit it while he enjoyed a cup of tea. So, an oddly rewarding day in which I made all my customers happy, proved that investing in good product pays back over time, and is infinitely better for the environment.
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