Inherently, posture does not mean good or bad. It just refers to the alignment of the body at a particular time. In a good posture, the body’s weight is not maintained by a few muscles but by many. However, in a bad posture, the body is taken out of balance (e.g., bending forward to look at your laptop screen), and therefore specific muscles have to work extra hard to keep your body in that position.
Today, let us look at some frequently asked questions about posture and some great tips to help you maintain a great one!
How does poor posture affect the body?
As children, our backs show a graceful ‘S’ curve, and our movements are easy and effortless. However, as we get older our habits of slouching and inactivity can cause tension in our bodies, leading to poor posture. With most of us working that 9 to 5, prolonged sitting is very common. Sitting for long periods with a slumped back restricts blood flow and increases pressure. Not correcting your posture in time can also cause back pain, neck pain, tight hips and rounded shoulders. A slouched posture (especially after a meal) is also known to increase acid reflux and slow down digestion.
How can I tell if I have good or bad posture?
More often than not, if you have a poor posture, you will know. The aches, pains and tightness are strong indicators that you need to look at your posture. However, there are two quick tests you can do to find out if your posture needs some work.
TEST 1: How do your hands rest when you stand up normally? Do your palms rest in a curved manner facing your thighs? Or are they parallel to your sides? If you find that your palms face your thighs, it might be a sign of poor posture caused by hunching over your laptop or phone for extended periods of time.
TEST 2: Stand against the wall and notice what parts of your body are touching the wall. If you have a proper posture, your head, shoulder blades, hips and feet should be touching the wall.
Does good posture mean keeping my back straight all the time?
No, it doesn’t. We’re only human, and it is impossible to have the perfect posture all day. Having said that, it is essential to know that sitting up straight (90-degree) is considered to be harmful to humans. The proper angle is between 120 to 135 degrees. This can be achieved by sitting back in your chair. A great trick to keep your posture in check is to set the alarm on your phone to sit straight every hour. Every time your alarm rings, fix your posture and try to maintain it for 5 minutes.
Remember that it is natural for your body to go back to its default position because it is what your body is familiar with. Therefore, all you can do is create a new (and correct!) default posture for your body.
What is the right sitting posture for office chairs?
Our spines have a natural curvature that needs constant support. Without this support, our bodies tend to compensate by slouching, leading to back pain over time. Therefore, maintaining the correct posture is extremely important, especially if you’re working from home. Avoid working from your bed or couch, as this can strain your muscles immensely. Invest in a good office chair and follow these five steps –
- Position your elbows at a 90° angle to your desk
- Sit in as close to the desk as possible
- Bring your keyboard and mouse in close, so your elbows are in line with your ribcage
- Place your feet flat on the floor or footrest
- Sit right back into the chair, with your hips and back in full contact with the backrest
How can I improve or fix my poor posture?
There are many ways to fix your posture. Start with evaluating your workstation. It is essential to have an office chair with options to adjust the height and backrest and a locking mechanism to prevent any sudden jolts. Check for lumbar support, armrests and adequate width, so you are not constricted for 8 hours in an uncomfortable chair.
Next, move on to performing exercises that strengthen your back muscles so that they do not get fatigued. You can also incorporate these desk yoga poses or these “secret” exercises while you’re at work. In addition, here are a few exercises you can try to alleviate your neck and shoulder stress:
- Stand up straight, pull your head back and centre it over your spine.
- Push your palms outward as if you’re shutting a door and hold for 5 seconds.
- Practice the Chin Tuck. Sit and look straight, place a finger on your chin and pull your head back till you feel a slight stretch at the base of your head.
Is it too late to save my posture?
Absolutely not! Even if your poor posture has been troubling you for years, it is possible to make improvements. Your posture can improve with a combination of strengthening weaker muscles and stretching tighter muscles. You will have to work on this during your daily activities, like sitting up straight while using your phone and watching TV. Cutting down on the activities that led you to a bad posture in the first place also helps.
Have more questions? Here’s how we can help you.
We understand that all of us are different and hence have different postures and postural issues. If you still have any more questions, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us here.
When it comes to your health, prevention is always better than cure. Our partners, Spectrum Optimise, are Ireland’s leading ergonomics experts that have a team of physiotherapists that will assess your workplace for you and give you some solid advice on how to correct your posture and work comfortably.