What’s Really Making You Tired at Work

Roger Sperry, recipient of the Nobel Prize in brain research stated, “Motion is life. 90 percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine.” We are genetically programmed to move, not sit still. Unfortunately, we are a very sedentary society. We sit while having coffee and breakfast, sit in the car on the way to work, sit at work, sit on the way home, sit and have dinner, then sit and watch TV, read, get on the computer, play video games, or check Facebook.

Therefore, we need to find ways to increase motion of the spinal joints as they contain “mechanoreceptors” that send the signals to the brain. These signals stimulate control centers that up-regulate vital body functions. Increased motion is like turning up the dimmer switch to turn up the lights. When there is lack of movement or improper joint motion, the positive signaling decreases, your health and productivity functions are literally “dimmed down” and you waste a lot of energy. The more motion you create at work and in your life, the more efficiently the brain works and the less energy spent to integrate mental and body functions. This impacts your mental focus, creativity, productivity, job satisfaction and immune and hormone systems, to name a few.

Two things can affect movement of spinal joints. You either are not moving (sitting), or the spinal joints are restricted and not moving correctly.

First, let’s start with the sitting position at your desk. Sitting in a typical office chair does not allow much movement. And, if your workstation is not set up properly, the resulting misalignment and stress on your spine can result in a decrease of the signaling to the brain and also cause injury to delicate nerves and discs. In addition, the strain on the spine often results in tightness and pain in the upper shoulders, neck, and low back, headaches, etc. making it hard to maintain focus.

A better option to a chair where you sit still is sitting on an exercise ball chair ($60-$100). Micro movements while sitting on these stimulate joint mechanoreceptors and pump fluids in and out of the intervertebral discs. Click here for a short video explaining the benefits. A better option is a standing desk or a desk or workstation apparatus that adjusts from sitting to standing. Adjustable desks are either electric or crank operated ($350-$550 for basic desks). An adjustable workstation apparatus sits on top of the desk and is hinged allowing it to go from the lower sitting position to the upper standing position in a matter ofeconds ($150-$400). Once you configure your keyboard and monitor to your body, the proper ergonomic relationship remains the same whether sitting or standing. Here are some options.

The good news is that proper workstation ergonomics can also help reduce job related repetitive-use injuries and hiring and training costs associated with turnover, and help reduce absenteeism and presenteeism (working while sick).

Secondly, we have “proper” movement of the spine. Accidents, bad posture, sports, job-related stresses, etc. can cause a spinal joints to become misaligned. If your wheels on your car are out of alignment wearing down the tires too quickly, would you keep replacing the tires or realign the wheels? Apply this concept to your spine. If out of alignment, it is not only interfering with proprioceptive signaling as discussed above, but your discs and joints are also wearing down at an accelerated rate. You can replace your tires but you can’t replace your spine! Unfortunately, disc degeneration and nerve interference can exist without any conscious awareness of symptoms. How can you know? Get a thorough evaluation by a wellness chiropractor to check for alignment and the potential development of permanent arthritic degeneration.

Finally, find activities to get moving. At work, take breaks. Use a kitchen timer or the alarm on your phone or watch as a reminder if necessary. Get up, stretch, walk around, do simple full body warm-up exercises. Stand up to read reports and articles or when talking on the phone, take a brisk walk at lunchtime, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. On off hours from work, go for a walk, take an exercise class, get an exercise video for home, or engage friends or the kids in sports or movement oriented programs such as available on gaming consoles.

Be proactive and take action to increase your overall movement. You will feel better and improve your productivity.

Dr. Greg Chappell is the author of the forthcoming book, “Endless Energy: Simple Strategies for Increased Energy, Less Stress, and a Happier, More Vibrant Life.” He and his wife, Lyn, co-direct Chappell Chiropractic Wellness Center in Acme, Mich. They have 31 years of experience specializing in family wellness and corporate consulting. More articles and information: www.chappellhealth.com and www.youtube.com/chappellwellness. Dr. Chappell is available to come to local businesses to help get employee’s workstations set up at no charge as part of their community service. He can be reached at (231) 938-3830 or drgreg@chappellhealth.com.