Despite feeling comfier in the short term, slouching causes long-term complications. Particularly with the rise of technology, paying attention to your posture has never been more important. One recent study coined the term ‘tech neck’ to describe the wrinkles and pain that can develop on the chest and neck as a result of prolonged use of handheld devices and computers.
Good posture: a lost art?
In additional to suffering from ‘techneck’, bad posture can cause so many pains and problems for your body. In fact, poor posture is known to be one of the major causes of back problems. It depends on your posture as to which muscle groups feel the strain. Even if you’re not experiencing problems now, improving your posture is something that you should consider, to prevent issues from arising in the future.
Spending long periods of time at a desk can also cause back and neck trouble. Research has even shown that sitting time has a positive correlation with lower back pain and neck-shoulder pain intensity. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are some actions that you can take to maintain a good posture when you’re at work.
Solving with bad posture
Noticing and being aware of your posture is the first big step to improvement. This pushes you to make active changes and recognise when you could improve.
The ideal posture
A healthy posture is essential, especially when you spend a large amount of time sitting at a desk. The way that we sit also has an effect on the way we walk, so it’s important to keep an eye on it. Good posture is where the body is in perfect alignment. This is where your spine can maintain its natural curvature and it isn’t strained. The best way to sit or stand in this way is to imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you up. This should lengthen your stance, improve the way that you’re positioned, and stop you from slouching. You might find that slouching is temporarily comfortable, but over time it can lead to strain on already sensitised muscles and soft tissues.
Begin by sitting back in the chair rather than perching on the edge, as this offers your back some support and brings back pain relief for sufferers. Do not sit as far back so that your feet dangle through. Letting your feet dangle can cause problems. If you sit on a high stool at work, for example, tuck them in and rest them on the support. Positioning yourself so that your legs hang over the side of your chair causes gravity to pull your feet towards the ground and this tilts your pelvis backward, which can lead to pain.
Prevent your shoulders from straining and keep them relaxed. Avoid hunching them up so that you can lean on the arms of your chair or rolling them forwards.
Request equipment from your employer
Speak to your employer if you think that you need extra support or that your current equipment is affecting your posture.
Choose a chair with support for the inward curve of the spine. Armrests can help provide support, but they need to be thecorrect height. If they’re too high, this can cause raised shoulders, and if they’re too low, it can cause leaning. As we mentioned before, make sure that your chair is the right height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are parallel to, or just lower than, your hips. Your screen should be directly in front of you, around an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at your eye level. A neck rest can also be used to help you relax your neck when you’re not typing.
When it comes to your phone at work, a cordless headset can be helpful. This is because you might find yourself cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder, which can add unnecessary strain to our neck, upper back and shoulders.
Move about throughout the day
Remember to move away from your desk and walk around, to support your good posture. Even if you are sitting with good posture, being sat in the same place for a prolonged period can still be harmful. And, moving around at work has other fitness benefits too. In fact, when asked to interrupt their sitting at work every half an hour throughout the day, overweight/obese office workers showed a 32% reduction in lower back discomfort, compared to seated work. But how can you keep moving at work?
- Standing during phone call.
- Taking a break from the computer every 30 minutes and stretching your legs.
- Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing them.
- Doing some desk exercises.
Lee Dover is a senior copywriter at Mediaworks with an interest in healthcare as well as researching into healthier ways of living. He has a BA (Hons) in Magazine Journalism.