Over thousands of years, human beings have evolved to run long distances, hunt and forage for food and spend the majority of our time outside. What we’re not designed for is sitting hunched over an office desk for hours on end.
And yet that’s exactly what’s happening in our increasingly office-based culture, with 78% of office workers saying they spend too long sat down. That’s why bad posture in the workplace is such a common (and growing) problem.
Why is good posture so important?
Your mum was right: your posture is important. Good posture means that your bones, muscles, joints and ligaments are properly aligned, leading to them being used more efficiently.
Good posture can also help prevent several health problems, including:
- Increased risk of backaches
- Poor digestion
- Increased chances of cardiovascular issues
- Varicose veins
- Changes in your spinal curvature
What causes bad posture?
There are a number of different sitting and standing habits we pick up that lead to bad posture, especially when spending long hours sitting in front of a computer screen at work.
Things you may be doing that lead to bad posture include:
- Slouching in your chair
- Hunching your back
- Rounding your shoulders
- Poking your chin out when sat at a desk
- Cradling your phone between your ear and neck
These positions can sometimes feel more comfortable than actually sitting correctly, but they’re a habit that needs to be broken to avoid health problems down the line.
The type of lifestyles we live can also contribute to the way we hold ourselves. Prolonged periods of inactivity, a lack of exercise and poor ergonomic workstations can all lead to problems with your posture.
Luckily, there are some easy ways in which you can help break these habits and stay standing tall.
How to win the fight against bad posture
It’s never too late to make an effort to start improving your posture. Take these measures now to look forward to a future of better health.
Understand your posture
To improve your posture, you need to know how you currently hold yourself.
Take a look at your posture in the mirror. See where your hands rest and feel where you hold tension (for most people, this is usually in the shoulders).
If your palms face your thighs with your thumbs pointing ahead, your posture is good. If your palms face backwards, you’re probably slouching. To correct this, pull your head back and your shoulders down and back.
Make an effort to sit properly
We often develop bad posture through how we sit. If you sit too far forward on your chair, you put additional pressure on your pubic bone, and if you sit too far back, the pressure mounts on your tailbone.
Find the right balance by keeping your feet flat on the floor, your back straight and centring your weight. You should also think about supporting your lower back to prevent aches and pains if you spend long periods of time sitting.
Try correcting exercises
There are certain exercises you can do to help counteract the damage of bad posture. The best exercises strengthen your core, extend and flex your muscles and encourage better balance. They include:
- Shoulder stretches
Make sure you’re fully supported with the correct furniture
In office environments, there is a natural tendency to lean forward towards your computer, slouch at your desk or keep your legs crossed for long periods, which can lead to increased tension and muscle strain throughout your body. One of the best ways to combat this is to ensure that you are provided with comfortable, ergonomic furniture that supports good posture.
Height adjustable desks are great for encouraging good posture, as you can decide between sitting or standing whilst doing your work, giving muscle groups a rest during the day.
The right kind of chair is also very important. You need to ensure that you’re comfortable and supported and that your chair is ergonomically designed to avoid any health issues.
For more information about health and wellbeing in the office, take a look at the best ways to encourage your staff to start exercising, or take a look at the six seating sins office workers usually fall victim to.