In our modern lifestyle, we spend the majority of our day hunched over our desk, laptop or cell phone. You’re probably guilty of it right now.
Poor posture leads to reduced mobility, general stiffness, and chronic conditions such as headaches, back, neck and shoulder pain. Your concave chest and compressed abdominal cavity can also interfere with breathing and digestion. Here are a few tips on how to improve your posture.
Check Your Posture
From the side: Imagine a vertical line running through your ear, shoulder, hip, kneecap and the front of your ankle. Your stomach should be flat and your lower back should have a slight hollow.
From the front: Your eyes, shoulders, hips, and knees should be level with each other and there should be no rotation of your head, torso or hips. Your knees should not bend in toward each other or away from each other and your feet should have an arch and point straightforward.
Your back should be straight, buttocks against the back of the chair, shoulders back and down, head in line with your shoulders, arms and knees bent at 90 degrees, forearms and thighs parallel to the floor, wrists neutral, hips bent to 90-110 degrees, feet flat touching the floor. Remove your wallet from your back pocket and do not cross your legs.
It is important to focus on our sitting posture since our careers find us sitting in front of a computer for the majority of the day. There are some general guidelines to follow when setting up a good computer workspace that is easy and doesn’t require you to spend any money. The main goal is for you to put your body in the most comfortable position possible.
Create an Ideal Work Environment
Chair: You should have a chair that supports the arch in your low back. Adjust your chair height so that you can plant your feet on the floor with a 90-degree bend in your knees. The armrests should allow a 90-degree bend in your elbows with your shoulders down.
Desk: Your desk height should allow your elbows to be just at or above the desk with a 90-degree bend in them. You should be able to keep your shoulders down and your elbows close by your sides and sitting comfortably on the desk surface, without leaning on them.
Computer: The top of the computer monitor should be 1-2 inches above eye-level. You can put a book under the monitor to raise it.
Phone: Use a cordless headset if you are on the phone for more than one hour per day total. This ensures that you will not have your head tilted for large amounts of time while talking on the phone and trying to perform other tasks.
Breaks: Taking breaks ensure that your body has the energy to sit up straight while working. Get up from your chair at least once an hour. You can set a reminder on your computer to make this easy to do.
Water: Just like taking breaks, drinking enough water is important to help prevent tiredness throughout the day and to ensure you have enough energy to maintain good posture.
Good posture is important because it allows your body to function optimally by properly aligning your ligaments and bones to allow the force of gravity to be evenly distributed. You’ll experience less pain and fatigue and improved circulation. Healthy posture can even make you look better. People with proper posture appear taller, thinner, more confident and graceful than those who slouch.
Improve Your Posture
- Stand or sit still for prolonged periods of time
- Cradle your phone with your shoulder – use a headset
- Sleep on your stomach
- Fall asleep on the arm of the couch
- Strain forward to read the computer screen
- Take breaks every hour to change positions and stretch
- Limit texting/emailing on your cellphone to 15 minutes at a time
- Invest in a good mattress and pillow
- Use a pillow between your legs (side sleeping) or under your knees (back sleeping)
- Have your posture checked by a professional
- Stretch, do yoga or Pilates to improve flexibility
- Have an athletic therapist create a strength program to correct your specific postural weaknesses