Staying On the Ball at Work
January 17, 2012 3 Comments
This is an historic moment for The Earthling’s Handbook.
Almost 15 years after we started this Website, almost 5 years after we set up blog software so that I could write articles on my lunch break and post them easily, we have never posted any photographs. I’ve explained my reservations about photos but also said it isn’t a strict rule. I always thought that someday, I might write an article that really requires a visual illustration to show what I mean.
This is that article.
For a couple of years now, Daniel and I have been improving our “core strength” (abdominal and lower-back muscles) by sitting on an exercise ball and balancing with feet off the floor for a few minutes a day. We keep a big red ball wandering around our bedroom for this purpose; it’s constantly rolling eagerly into our path to remind us to use it!
Meanwhile, at work, I usually spend 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer. Although I have a pretty nice, ergonomic desk chair, after a full day of sitting in it my back feels stiff and tired. I also have a tendency to hold my head too far forward when concentrating, which can mess up my neck or shoulder and lead to a headache after I finally relax from that posture.
I read in a few places that sitting on an exercise ball while working at a computer can be good for your back. About a year ago, I decided to buy another ball (this one is blue) and give it a try. My co-workers all found it very amusing. I’m still kind of embarrassed by the squeaking noises it makes when someone knocks on my door and startles me and I turn around suddenly.
But it really works! My back feels so much better! I have headaches less often, and it’s been months since I’ve had one that struck on my way home from work–which used to happen very often. Menstrual cramps are less painful (and go away more quickly) when I’m sitting on a springy surface and can easily adjust the angle of my pelvis. Although I often keep my feet on the floor, sometimes I balance and strengthen those core muscles, and that’s continuing to improve my tummy firmness. Not only is my lower-to-middle back stronger, but it’s easier to hold up my shoulders and neck when there is nothing behind my back than when I sit in a chair that supports me up to the shoulder blades so that I tend to let the unsupported part of me kind of dangle forward. I know my posture while sitting on the ball is better than while sitting in a chair; I think my posture while standing and walking has improved, too.
Of course, I also can use the ball to stretch and relax. Every once in a while, I roll forward and curve my back backward over the ball, arms up. Ahhhh.
What? Oh, the photos. No, they aren’t photos of me sitting on the ball. The crucial image here is of an important paper clip.
You see, if you are sitting on your ball 40 hours a week, it needs to be re-inflated fairly often. That gets annoying because the stopper is very difficult to pull out. I broke a couple of fingernails, and narrowly avoided puncturing my ball or my hand while trying to pry out the stopper with a scissors blade, before I realized that I had the perfect tool in my desk drawer.
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