A job that involves sitting at a desk most of the time can gradually have a detrimental effect on your posture. The folks at Relax the Back explain that “days spent primarily sedentary are putting people at risk of chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, all of which impact long-term health and productivity.” However, there are several ways in which you can reduce these risks and actually improve your posture within the workspace.
Adopt a neutral posture
A neutral posture basically involves complete spinal alignment, which can often be compromised by bad sitting habits like hunching or slouching. It’s habits like these that can, according to Relax the Back, “cause spinal compression, nerve pinching and muscle tension.” Adopting a neutral posture involves keeping your screen (or screens) at eye level so that you don’t tilt your head, with your shoulders pulled back, your black flat against the back of your chair, and your feet planted flat on the ground. Crossing your legs and ankles can lead to hip misalignment.
If you start to feel any kind of physical discomfort in your back, neck or shoulders while sitting, be it stiffness or aching, then take note of it. Also take note of when it happens and how you were sitting when you started feeling the discomfort, if you can remember. If you do this you might be able to identify any patterns in your sitting habits that might be contributing to your discomfort. As a result, you’ll know what regular habits you’ll need to change and what new habits you can adopt in order to avoid further pain.
Take a break from sitting
Relax the Back mentions that staying seated for the majority of the day “increases wear and tear on your spinal discs”, and that a “lack of movement restricts blood and nutrient flow to spinal discs”. So, while at work, be sure to take short breaks to walk around the office for a while. It’s a great way to keep the blood circulating, increase your energy levels, reflect a bit on the work you’ve just done, and just generally take a breather. You can also use the opportunity to stretch and perform posture exercises, like some of these, which include the following:
– The Chin Tuck, which involves strengthening your neck muscles by tucking in your chin and moving your head back
– The Wall Angel, which involves standing flat against a wall, keeping your arms parallel to the floor and your shoulder blades squeezed together, and then moving your arms forward to form the letter ‘Y’
– The Doorway Stretch, which involves lifting and bending your arms and pushing against a door frame in order to loosen your chest muscles
Of course, another alternative to sitting all day would be to stand while you work. It’s not an uncommon workplace activity, as proven by the availability of sit-stand desk stations that you can adjust according to your height and whether or not you feel like sitting or standing. If you choose to stand while working at one of these desks, you’re once again giving yourself the opportunity to practise perfecting your posture. But there are some added benefits to using sit-stand desk stations. The wellness brand Teeter, mentions a few, including reduction in back pain and a boost in productivity.
A sit-stand desk isn’t the only piece of furniture you can use in order to improve your posture. If you’re able to do so, then get your hands on a decent ergonomic chair that’ll offer you proper back support and have you sitting in comfort. Other ergonomic accessories you can use include workspace footrests, keyboard trays that will help you adjust your typing position, and laptop stands and monitor arms that’ll enable you to sit upright as you type.
Don’t let work take its toll on your back, neck and shoulders. If you’re ever feeling pain in these areas, take note of it and take measures to avoid it. Also, don’t spend too much time in a seated position. Stand while working and take breaks to walk around the office. When you are sitting get into the habit of adopting a neutral posture that ensures your spine is properly aligned while you work. Lastly, if you can invest in ergonomic furniture and workplace accessories then do so. They’re extremely useful in preventing discomfort and helping you achieve proper posture.