If you’ve worked in an office environment for any length of time, you’ll know what a toll it can take on your back.
The human body wasn’t meant to sit all day in chairs - we evolved to stand, walk and run. And yet, office workers are usually immobile, staring at screens for hours on end. Most of us don’t have sufficiently strong core muscles to maintain good posture throughout the day, so most of us end up slouching.
Want to improve your posture to turbocharge your work performance?
Here are BACK’s easy techniques to improve your posture while at the office, from stretches to variations in routine and new gear.
1. Take a Walk
It sounds simple, but this is one of the best things you can do to improve your posture. You’re more likely to adopt and maintain a proper posture when you’re standing and walking.
There are added benefits to walking during your day than improving your posture.
Studies have shown that sitting for too long puts you at increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
So, every 30 minutes, get up from your desk and walk around for a little while.
Use this opportunity to do some little things: make a brew, get some desk supplies, chat to a colleague. If you have to go to another floor, take the stairs. You’d be surprised how much a few minutes a day walking around the office can help with your posture.
And while you’re at it, stand up straight with those shoulders back!
2. Chin Tuck
Lots of people, especially when sitting at their computers, have a tendency to stick their chins out. This can lead to hunching from the added weight your extended head puts on your upper spine.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, if you’ve noticed you’ve slumped into a bad posture, tuck your chin back until you feel your neck and shoulders straighten out. Maintain the resulting posture for as long as you can.
3. Adjust Your Work Space
How you hold yourself when you sit depends largely on the hardware you’re using. If you’re using gear that doesn’t suit your body, it can wreak havoc on your bones and muscles.
If you’re sitting at a desk for long periods of time, it’s important to properly adjust your chair. Ensure your seat is at a height that allows your legs to rest at a 90 degree angle, with your feet flat on the ground.
If the chair has armrests, adjust them so that your elbows touch them when your arms hang down naturally. Your forearms should also rest at a 90 degree angle when using a keyboard.
Also, ensure that your bum is at the back of the seat, and that your chair back has sufficient lumbar support to allow you to sit up straight.
It is also vitally important to ensure your head stays in the correct position while you sit. We all have a tendency to hold our heads towards what we’re looking at, and if that thing is lower than our natural eye level, we lower our heads to meet it. Use a laptop or monitor stand to ensure that your monitors are at eye level. You may even consider getting your own standing desk to keep you on your feet for as long as possible.
4. Do Some Shoulder Rolls
This is an easy exercise to do to keep your shoulder muscles loose, allowing you to more easily keep your shoulders back and adopt a healthy upright posture.
- Stand or sit with your feet together or slightly apart. Lift your chest as you straighten your back
- Lift your shoulders up toward your ears
- Come back to the center, then change the direction of your shoulder rolls, making 5 to 10 backward circles
- Lower your arms to your sides and relax
5. Use a Posture Brace
Posture braces are a simple and effective tool that allows most people to achieve an amazing posture with little effort. Most are designed to discreetly fit under your clothes so that no one will know you’re wearing one.
A posture brace will pull your shoulders back, straighten your spine and push your chest out, and train your body over weeks to naturally adopt a new and impressive posture.
6. Loosen Your Neck with an Upper Trapezius Stretch
Doing this stretch will help loosen your traps, which will let your neck more easily support the weight of your head.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back straight
- Grab the side of your seat with your left hand
- With your right hand, reach over your head so that your fingers are touching the left side of your head
- With your right hand, gently pull your head towards your right shoulder until you feel a stretching feeling up the left side of your neck
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then release
- Repeat with the opposite side
7. Relieve Those Back Aches with a Seated Spine Rotation
Keeping your spine flexible will do wonders for your posture. This is a great stretch you can do at your desk to help you relieve any back aches that are keeping you from sitting up straight.
- Sit in a chair with a back, with your feet and knees together and your back in an upright position
- Turn your shoulders to one side as far as you can while keeping your knees and feet static. You should feel a stretch running up your lower back and into your middle back. You can use the seat or back of your chair to deepen the stretch, but try not to extend beyond what feels comfortable
- Repeat with the opposite side
8. Uncross Your Legs
Everyone does it. But it’s also bad for your posture.
When we cross our legs, many of us either instinctively slump into our seat or place most of our weight onto one side of our body. Doing either of these things can seriously throw your body out of alignment.
When sitting, try to sit up straight and keep both feet flat on the floor.
For an extra challenge and improved results, try sitting with an inflated cushion to activate those core muscles.
9. Hold Your Phone Higher
Desktop monitors aren’t the only devices we look at. Increasingly, people are working directly on their mobile devices.
When most of us use our mobiles, we tend tend to hold them at our diaphragms and hunch over to view the screen. Obviously, this is not optimal posture.
Constantly stooping over your phone could lead to you developing the kyphotic spine associated with the dreaded ‘tech neck’ syndrome, which puts significant amounts of pressure on your upper spine.
Tech neck isn’t just bad for your health. It can also lead to all sorts of problems inside and outside of the office.
When using your mobile, hold it a bit higher so that you don’t have to stoop to see the screen.
10. Use a Headset Instead of the Phone Receiver
When you work in an office, it’s very common to need to speak on the phone and type at the same time. When taking a call, many of us instinctively clamp the receiver between our ear and shoulder.
As you can imagine, this isn’t great for your posture. It encourages you to round your shoulders, hunch over and poke your chin out - all posture no-no’s.
Ask your workplace if they can provide you with a wireless headset so that you can type and speak without a receiver.