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ASK THE EXPERT: The trouble with sitting

| On 04, Feb 2015

A job that lets you spend the day seated in air-conditioned comfort sounds great, but there is a downside. Poor posture and bad habits lead to pains in the neck and back that can become chronic. Dr Tan Swee Kheng tells us what to do about it.

1. What kind of postural problems/pains do office workers suffer from? 


Dr Tan: Office workers usually suffer from shoulder and neck pains which can lead to the development of chronic headaches. Due to long hours at the computer, office workers also develop forward head postures and round shoulders giving the appearance of a hunched posture. Another common aliment is back pains from sitting for long hours and having weak core muscles. A less common condition is uneven or rotated hips due to the crossing of legs when sitting.

2. How can they avoid developing these?


Dr Tan: Adopt an active lifestyle. Active living helps to strengthen and develop a person’s body muscles. In particular, developing good posture by exercising and conditioning one’s core muscles (anterior and posterior core) to prevent back aches and pains. In addition, one should maintain good work space environment, for example, adopt correct sitting posture, correct table and computer monitor heights, and take periodic breaks for 5 to 10 minutes every 2-3 hours.

3. If they already have pains, how can they help themselves?


Dr Tan: Get started on an active lifestyle which will reduce the pain and also be diligent in taking periodic breaks to do appropriate stretches for their conditions when at work.

Check out the video below to see a demonstration by Dr Tan Swee Kheng – exercises to do when you’re in the office.

The Expert



Dr Tan Swee Kheng, PhD, the only certified TRX® Sports Medicine Suspension Training Course Instructor in Singapore, walks (or rather, runs) the talk. A former national hockey player, she was a member of the team that won the first and only gold medal (to date) for Singapore Women’s Hockey during the 1993 South East Asian Games. From hockey, she went on to running marathons in the USA where she studied, completing the Columbus Marathon in Ohio and then the Boston Marathon in an impressive 3 hours 29 minutes. Next were biathlons, triathlons, and Ironman triathlons.

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