Everyday hacks for better posture
It’s no secret that bad posture can have negative consequences for your health.
As well as painful back and neck conditions, a recent study from San Francisco State University suggests that slouching can also lower your mood, causing anxiety and depression.
Being anchored to a desk and staring at a screen for hours on end does not help matters. In fact, bad habits at work could be the direct cause of posture-associated problems.
According to Mark Lucas of Virgin Active, Forward Head Posture (FHP) is the most common issue seen in the gym.
“The head is held in forward carriage, out in front of the body. This increases the Lordosis (curvature) of the neck,” he tells Coach.
FHP goes hand-in-hand with kyphosis (hunchback), medially rotated arms and winged scapulae.
“These symptoms are part of Upper-Crossed Syndrome and are a direct result of modern posture,” says Lucas, citing office work and screen time as major culprits.
If you’re suffering from these common side effects of cubicle life, there are some practices that can be incorporated throughout the workday to alleviate discomfort.
Many companies now provide stand up workstations for their employees, which Lucas highly recommends.
“To have the option to sit or stand is excellent,” he says.
Ideally, we shouldn’t be sitting down all day, but that’s wishful thinking for those of us required to work at a computer to make a living.
If you don’t have access to a standing desk, there’s a simple hack that could turn your day around.
“My recommendation to my clients is to be on your feet for at least 5 minutes of every hour,” says Lucas.
“This goes in line with drinking more water. More fluid consumption creates more bathroom breaks,” he added.
Love angels instead
While you’re up from your desk, find a wall and knock out a round of “wall angels”.
“Stand up against a wall with your legs spread apart, and hold your arms up on either side of you in a 90-degree angle,” instructs Lucas.
“Slowly raise your arms up and down. Do this at least 15 times.”
Check your desk etiquette
If you’re suffering from pain after a long day in the office, chances are you’re not sitting correctly.
Follow this simple checklist to for an ergonomic work station:
– Adjust your chair so your lower back is supported
– Place your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest
– Place your screen at eye height, and at arms length
– Make objects accessible (you shouldn’t be reaching for your mouse)
– Sit all the way back on your chair, using a backrest as support
Try taping or posture garments
Once reserved for sprained ankles and sore knees, athletic taping has found a home in many physio rooms and gym floors.
“For some cases I have used Kinesio Tape / Rock tape to actually tape across joints to promote better posture,” says Lucas.
The process involves applying tape directly to the skin in order to maintain a stable position of bones and muscles.
Posture garments are also gaining popularity, with companies like Queensland’s Realigntech bringing functional apparel to Australia.
By mapping the kinetic movement of muscles, the garments aim to activate the neurological process of muscle movement, correcting displacement and essentially pulling muscles in to line.
Work it out
One of the best ways to counteract poor posture is to get moving, outside of the office.
There are some simple exercises we can we do at home or at the gym to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk all day.
Try Lucas’ express posture sequence in the above video:
1. Hip Opener (hip flexors)
2. Rolling Explode (lower back, hamstrings)
3. 90 / 90 stretch (glutes)
4. Banded Pull Aparts (upper back)
5. Shoulder Dislocates (pec minor / general shoulder health)
6. Doorway Pec Stretch (pec minor / scapula organisation)
7. Atomic Superman (abs / upper back / shoulders)
8. Child’s Pose (restorative)