Many Americans sit and work behind a desk all day, sometimes for eight hours or more. While your workload may be keeping you at the desk, it is important to get up and move around during the day. Being stationary for an extended amount of time can have harmful effects on the body. Below, we provide some tips to improve your ergonomics and posture.
Take Mini-Breaks – Spending hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer can really take a toll on your back. In fact, poor posture can cause structural changes in the long-run. When you’re sitting for hours on end, chances are you are slouching for much of that time, which can lead to numerous issues such as back pain and neck and shoulder tension. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, a quick stroll around the office will not only help alleviate the pressure on your spine but also give you mental clarity as well.
Stretch – While a workout really can’t undo years of poor posture, stretching can really help with the aches and pains associated from sitting at a desk all day. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to combat the effects of sitting for an extended period of time. One easy neck stretch that you can do at your office is to place your chin to your neck and hold it there for ten seconds. Repeat this ten times a day and you will feel much better, sooner.
Practice Yoga and Pilates – Yoga and pilates will help you improve your core strength and also help you sit and stand taller. Stretching will help relax your muscles to help counteract your work-week slumps. Poses like the upward-facing dog, tree pose and cow face pose help stretch and strengthen the muscles affected by poor posture.
Practice good ergonomics – It is important to have a properly set up workstation to promote good posture. Ensure your computer monitor is eye level so that your head and neck are at a 90 degree angle and your head does not need to tilt up or down to look at the screen. Sit with your shoulders back and your chest forward. Hunching can cause long-term effects and be detrimental to your health. Poor posture places a lot of unnecessary stress to the spine and can change its alignment and curvature.
Invest in a good chair – If your job entails sitting in front of a computer all day, it is imperative that you have the optimal set up. Ensure that you have the proper chair so that your back is supported and the strain on your spine is reduced.
Be Mindful of Your Posture – Often times, especially when you’re divulged in your workload and deadlines, you are not being conscientious of your posture. It can be very difficult to be mindful of your posture. How do you practice good posture? Do not sit forward and be mindful of your shoulders; if you find that your they are rounded and hunched, pull your shoulders back. Ensure that your knees and hips sit at a 90-degree angle and keep your arms at a 90- degree angle with your elbows. Make sure your computer is eye level and not too far back so that you’re not leaning forward towards your screen. Anytime you look down, you are placing up to 50 pounds of pressure on your neck. Also, for every inch forward that your head is leaning towards the computer screen, you are placing an extra ten pounds of pressure on your spine. This is why you should sit back in your chair instead of leaning in.
Get Physical Therapy Treatments – Rounded shoulders and poor posture at your desk all day can attribute to your upper back, neck and shoulder tension. Slouching weakens the latissimus dorsi and the lower trapezius, which are the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. This causes muscle imbalances so to combat that, physical therapy works to strengthen these muscles.