“Sit up straight.” “Stand tall”. “Don’t slouch.” Mom’s commandments to improve your posture may have gotten the eye roll when we were children, but research suggests it makes sound sense.
Why does posture matter?
Posture refers to the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to gravity. Good posture helps distribute the force of gravity through the body, so no one part is overtly stressed. If it’s a habit, good posture can:
- Make you appear more confident
- Make breathing easier and deeper
- Improve circulation and digestion
- Help your muscles and joints
- Keep your spine healthy
- Make you look slimmer, taller and younger
- Put you in a better frame of mind
Posture at the workplace
Sitting down and staring at the computer screen for hours at end, slumping in the chair, scrunching up the neck and not bothering to tuck in your abdomen can play havoc with the body over time. The office chair, the computer screen’s position and the height of the desk may not promote good posture, but it’s essential to pay close attention to it. For poor posture is associated with various health conditions. It may begin with a little pain or stiffness, move on to back pain, and lead to tissue damage, coccyx pain, premature joint degeneration and spinal dysfunction.
How To Improve Your Posture
Strengthening the back and abdomen muscles can improve posture and circumvent the adverse effects of poor posture. Here are some simple ways you can improve your posture at work:
- If possible, get an ergonomic chair that offers lower and upper back support. It should be soft, preferably with armrests, and should make your neck feel comfortable and your shoulders relaxed.
- If your office doesn’t agree on the kind of chair, bring your own props and tools to ensure proper posture. Lumbar support pillows and seat wedges can help maintain normal spinal curves when seated and help decrease posture stress.
- Keep your head straight. Get your ears in line with the shoulders, which should be parallel to the hips. If the head is held high and straight, the back is forced to follow. Maintain a straight back and hold the abdomen slightly in to support the spine in a sitting posture.
- Every 15 minutes, draw your shoulders back and bring your chest up. Take a deep breath before getting back to work. This will remind you not to round your shoulders and bend over your desk.
- While sitting, make sure you don’t get into the habit of propping your feet up on a low stool. Keep your feet on the ground; this keeps your spine straight and avoids any deformation over time.
- Many of us position our computer screens way too low, so we’re forced to looking down instead of looking ahead. Position the top of your screen level with your eyes will ensure that you don’t bend your neck and slouch.
- This simple exercise will help you work your way to good posture. Roll your shoulders down and back, pull your elbows back towards imaginary back pockets. These movements press your scapula up against the ribs.
- Take a small break to stretch every now and then. Stretch your arms, your legs and your core. Try movements that open and lengthen muscles in the front of your body, be it the chest, forearms and biceps.
- The benefits of a standing desk have been well documented in recent times. Consider requesting for a common standing desk that people across the office can use for short spans of time.
- Make a conscious effort to stand on your entire foot. Most of us tend to put weight on the heels, making the feet weak and leading them to turn in. This increases the stress on weight-bearing joints such as the lower back, hips, knees and ankles.
- Get into the habit of moving every hour. Go to the pantry to fill your water bottle, say hello to the person in the cubicle at the far end or just walk up and down the stairs.
- A stability ball is a good investment for the office. Sitting on a ball from time to time will ensure that you maintain good posture, strengthen your muscles and improve stability.
- Put up a TRX or suspension strap in a spot that’s frequented by many – it could be near the coffee machine or water cooler. Using it regularly will stretch and open up tight muscles.
- Simple breathing exercises can also improve your posture. Breathe in slowly through your nose, and fill your belly. Hold for a few seconds. With your tongue held lightly against the roof of your mouth, let the breath out. This helps decrease stress and improves posture.
- If you keep forgetting to sit up straight, a couple of sticky notes on your computer or an alarm reminder every half an hour can help. If the problem is acute, put up a picture of you slouching or photos of good posture to remind you.
Living with bad posture means acquiescing to back, neck and shoulder pain, poor circulation, chronic fatigue and other issues. Sidestep these issues by correcting your body’s alignment. For help, get in touch with our experts