If like so many people over the past year you have worked from home, or as I like to call it ‘lived at work’, you may have noticed your posture deteriorate. Your back might be feeling a bit stiff, head leaning forward and your shoulders are rounding. If you are planning on playing the hunchback of Notre Dame, you’re in luck. If not, fix it now before it becomes your new look.
Now I know the 8 (or more) hours sat at your desk can’t be helped as your work requires you to do so. But here are 5 ways you can actually improve your posture.
1. 5 Minute Morning Stretch
Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier and perform a series of stretches before the 8 hour desk haul begins. Think about the muscles in your body as you sit. Rather than stretching the already lengthened parts such as your rounded back, think of stretching the shortened muscles such as the chest, hamstrings, hip flexors and rectus abdominals (abs). Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat at lunchtime and at the end of your day.
2. Strengthen Your Back, Bum & Tum
When you sit, your back rounds, your bum is inactive and your core relies on the back of the chair to support your body. Of course if you maintained perfect posture, this wouldn’t happen, but it’s almost impossible to concentrate on work and sustain perfect posture for hours on end. Exercises to strengthen these areas include banded face pulls for the upper back, double or single glute bridges for the bum and deadbugs for your core. Ideally perform these exercises, or variations of them, at least 3 times per week.
3. Take Breaks
As you would rest between exercises, the same applies when attempting to sit properly for long periods of time. Even a 2-3 minute walking break every 30 minutes will encourage you to reset mentally and physically (just try not to walk to the fridge!). You will feel fresher, your mind will take in and process more information and when you sit back down you will do so with better posture.
4. Sit With Your Feet Flat
This should be straight forward but is regularly forgotten. Try and sit at your desk with your feet flat on the ground. If you're sat with legs crossed or your feet out on their sides, then it's likely you're putting unwanted pressure on your hips, lower back, pelvis and sciatic nerve (the one that runs from your spine to your feet). This will greatly increase your chances of getting long-term back pain and/or nerve damage.
5. Tuck Your Chin
When we concentrate at a screen, our head will lean forward. The average head weighs between 4.5 - 5.5kg and for every inch that head is held forward in poor posture, an additional 4.5kg of weight is felt on the cervical spine. So just 1 or 2 inches of forward posture can double or triple the load on the cervical spine.
I have had clients move to a standing desk who have had dramatic improvements with their posture, so if this is an option for you, I would highlight recommend transitioning to standing. Humans were never made to sit with flexed hips, rounded back and tilted heads so it’s no wonder that back pain is the most common reason for doctor visits and lower back pain is now specifically the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Remember a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, so take those walks, train your muscles and really think about the long term effects of sitting.
If you need help with your posture or have any other questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on instagram (Robcarr11) or Facebook (Robcarrrpt).