Do you work in an office? Do you feel like sometimes your back or neck hurt from sitting in one place and in one position all day? If you feel like you’re suffering from any work related discomforts, kinesiology researcher Julie Côté thinks she may be able to help.
Côté, who also teaches at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has been conducting research in order to find ways to lessen these types of muscle distresses for office workers. Her belief is that if you modify certain aspects of your day-to-day routine at your place of business, you may be able to reduce or prevent your likeliness to suffer from serious muscular and skeletal pains that plague one out of ten people who work in an office. Côté firmly believes that your body is your work instrument—and how you choose to treat your body may reflect in your ability to work comfortably on a daily basis.
She likens the lack of movement in your body to that of an athlete, surprisingly, stating that in both instances the office worker and the athlete are putting themselves at risk of injury due to overusing certain muscles. For instance, when you’re spending eight hours a day sitting at your desk, staring at your computer, you’re overusing the muscles in your back and neck in order for you to continuously sit up straight and pay attention. While you might not be throwing your shoulder out of place from repeated curveballs, it is still having a negative impact on your bone structure and overall comfort level.
Julie Côté has been running various tests to determine what could be the possible solution in terms of combating this type of stress on certain parts of your body. She has begun tests involving a treadmill—where she tests the range of movement people have when they complete a 90-minute typing exercise while walking on the treadmill versus the range of movement they have while completing the same exercise sitting at their desk. While researchers found that yes, there is more blood flow within the body and better muscle interaction when the subject is walking instead of sitting; Côté still isn’t completely satisfied with her findings. She believes that the treadmills could potentially be helpful, but she is still unsure of how to integrate it successfully into businesses.
Côté at one point was almost an Olympic level athlete. She trained extensively as a middle distance runner for over a decade and competed at the junior national championship level over that course of time. But as the years passed she started to realize that all of her intense training was starting to take a toll on her body. One positive that came out of the situation though, was her newfound interest in learning how to relieve pressure on the body in all different scenarios. She wanted to help people who may have suffered in similar ways that she had—regardless of whether it was as an athlete or as an office worker.
Even though she doesn’t have a specific plan in place yet to help advise people on the best ways to prevent these common injuries and stiffness issues, Julie Côté has devised a simple formula for people to follow for the time being until she finds a more permanent solution: minor adjustments in your movements and your sitting position every few minutes should help combat some of that uncomfortable ache you feel in the base of your neck while you’re reading this at work.