Our top tips for improving posture at work
According to Bupa, workers in the UK took a staggering 30 million days off in 2016 for problems related to bone and muscle health. One reason for this is that whilst most of our clients have impeccable form during the hour they spend with us in the gym, over the rest of the day their attention to their posture can slip, leading to neck and back pain, reduced mobility and muscular imbalances that worsen over time.
So, how can you nail your posture when your trainer isn’t there to remind you? Here is our easy to follow guide on how to stay strong and pain free outside of the gym too!
1. Make sure you take an active break every half hour
Try not to sit in the same position, hour after hour. Frequent, short breaks are recommended, to give the muscles in your back the chance to relax, while other muscles of the body work. Research has shown that people should be taking an active break from sitting every 30 minutes. In addition to postural issues, too much sitting can affect your health in other ways. For example, it has been shown to cause an increase in the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke as well as heart disease. A study in the 1950’s discovered that London bus drivers were twice as likely to have heart attacks as their bus conductor counterparts.
2. When you do sit, sit properly
Positioning yourself in the correct way when sitting at a desk can make all the difference. Here are the key points to look out for:
- Be sure your back is aligned against the back of the office chair. When you’ve been sitting down for a long time, you’re likely to start slouching or leaning forwards, causing your shoulders to round and placing unnecessary pressure on your neck. If you find yourself slouching, get up and take a short walk. If you do have to spend long periods of time at your desk, then ideally you should have an ergonomically optimised chair, customised to fit and support your back
- Aim to have the arms resting at a 75 to 90 degree angle at the elbows. You should be able to use your keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and parallel with the floor. This will help to prevent repetitive strain injury
- Keep your knees hip distance apart or slightly wider, with both feet resting flat on the floor. If they don’t reach, ask for a footrest. Try not to cross your legs!
- Sit in the office chair with your shoulders straight and ensure that your screen is at eye level so that you don’t have to strain
3. Be aware of your neck positioning
For optimal neck position, your ears should be positioned directly above the shoulders, ensuring the shoulders are not rounded. This minimises stress on the neck, because the head is naturally balanced on the cervical spine.
4. Stretch at work
If you’re stuck at your desk, there are still some simple stretches that you can do to help keep you mobile and prevent you from spending too long in sub-optimal positions. Here are a few of our favourites.
Seated Spinal Rotation
- In a seated position, cross your arms over your chest and take hold of your shoulders.
- Gently rotate your upper body from the waist, from right to left, as far as you can, to provide a gentle stretch to the sides of your lower back
- Hold one arm across your chestWith the other, pull your elbow in closely.
- Feel the stretch through the back of the shoulder
- Gently lift your shoulders, and then let them fall. A simple movement, this allows your upper traps to loosen up and increases the blood flow to these muscles, which often become tight when sitting at a desk for extended periods of time
- Keep your head upright and gently turn your head from side to side, as far as it can go within a comfortable range
Upper Traps (shoulder and neck) stretch
- Sit on one hand, and gently tilt your head away from the hand you are sitting on. You should feel the stretch down the side of your neck
- Once you have turned your head, adjust your gaze and look towards your armpit. Feel the stretch move around to the back of the neck
- Change sides and repeat
- While standing, stretch your arms out behind you and clasp your hands together. Gently lift the arms and feel the stretch through the front of the shoulder and chest
If you have any areas of tightness that you want to address, or would like some more ideas on optimising your posture when at work, chat to your trainer today. Don’t yet train with us? Book in for your free initial consultation by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.orgUseful links