As you may have heard, sitting down for long periods of time is one of the worst things to do for your body and health. Some of us, however, have no choice -- the majority of people spend much of their days stuck at a desk while working. While we can't always change our jobs, we can change one crucial thing to help improve our health while at work: practice proper sitting posture.
Here are 5 easy ways to improve your posture while sitting.
1. Adjust Your Chair
Lower back pain affects more than 80% of the population (learn more about it here). Most desk chairs are created to help support your lower back, but if you are experiencing back pain that you believe may be related to your chair, try this trick: Roll up a towel or a blanket and place it between the chair and the natural curve of your low back. This should help you sit with proper lumbar (low back) positioning. Make sure the roll isn't too big however- this could cause even more pain!
Also, make sure your chair is set at the proper height for your body. Your legs should be parallel with the ground and your feet should be flat on the floor. (When we say your legs should be parallel with the ground, think of creating a 90 degree angle from the hip. Your knees should not come above your hip). One last important thing to remember... don't cross your legs!
2. Adjust Your Screen
When seated, the middle of your computer screen should be at eye level. Having a screen that is tilted too high can cause unnecessary strain on your neck and a screen that is too low can cause you to hunch over. Try using a stack of books, printer paper, or computer stand to raise your screen to the proper height.
3. Efficient Equipment
Make sure your keyboard, mouse, and any other supplies are positioned in a way that does not put any strain on your body. Repeatedly reaching to grab a notepad or pen can cause pain over time. Keep everything you use frequently within close reach.
While you are seated at your desk, make sure your shoulders are down and back, away from your years. Tensing your neck and shoulders can cause serious injuries in the long run. In order to keep the muscles of your neck and shoulders from tensing up, practice neck stretches a few times throughout the day. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were squeezing a pencil between them (while avoiding tensing up your neck), and keep your abs contracted. Soon enough, sitting like this will be like second nature!
5. Take a Break!
While these techniques will help improve the negative consequences of sitting, it is still important to get up and move regularly throughout the day. Don't stay in the same position for longer than 20-30 minutes, and make sure to get up and walk around at least once per hour. This will help improve blood flow and circulation, as well as help to keep your muscles loose. Here's some ideas to help you get moving.
Although we cannot always change our environments entirely to support a healthier lifestyle, small adjustments can improve the quality of your day in a big way. Practicing proper sitting posture is a small change that makes a big difference long-term. These techniques should help alleviate back, neck, and shoulder pain and/or stiffness that stems from sitting for much of the day. And remember, practicing proper posture is important always- not just while at work!
What are some of the ways your practice proper posture in your daily life?