It’s about more than looking good. Good posture at work plays a huge part in enhancing your physical and mental well-being, as well as your productivity.
We see it all the time: People come in with chronic headaches. Neck and shoulder pain. Numbness and tingling in their arms. Mid or low back pain. Even sciatica.
The one common denominator these people share: desk jobs.
Office and administrative work is the largest occupational group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means a ton of Americans work at a desk all day. And that’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. Sitting, in and of itself, can be dangerous, reports the New York Times. It doesn’t burn much energy and can slow your metabolism. And that’s not even accounting for the added risks of poor posture while sitting.
You might not be able to control every aspect of your office environment, and your boss may even require you to stay behind the desk for extended periods of time. But how you sit at your desk is in your control. And good posture at work can make a huge difference on your quality of life – in and out of the office.
Here’s a closer look at the importance of maintaining optimal posture while working.
The Importance Of Practicing Good Posture At Work
There are plenty of studies backing up the importance of good posture at work. For example, when we sit in a slouched position with our stomach compressed, our organs have less space and that affects the diaphragm and lungs – resulting in reduced lung capacity.
In other words, we get less oxygen when we don’t sit up straight. And our brains need oxygen and blood to function best. So if we’re not pumping that blood due to poor posture, we can’t do our best work. It can affect our productivity and quality.
People frequently come to us because they just don’t feel “good.” Sometimes it can be small but disruptive. They just feel uncomfortable. All the time.
Often, we find this is an indicator of their posture. Even after they’re done with work and away from the desk, they’re still uncomfortable. That’s because they sat there for eight hours.
Other times, the effects of poor posture at the desk are more aggressive, like headaches, back pain, and numb arms – due to unhealthy blood flow and stagnation. Our bodies aren’t made to sit around all day.
Our bodies will always take the path of least resistance; they’ll adapt to what we do all day. If we sit around with poor posture, our bodies will get used to that, which will then make it harder for us to attain better posture.
If you’re struggling with tight shoulders and an achy neck after staring at the computer all day, we can help. But you have to help yourself a lot more. We can help with adjustments and our expertise on how to set up your desk. We can also be a sounding board and hold you accountable. But we can’t be around you 24/7, so the biggest part of good posture at work is on you.
Here’s where to start.
What Is Good Posture At The Office?
Ideally, you want to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, hips bent at 90 degrees, shoulders relaxed, elbows bent at 90 degrees, and with your vision in the center of your screen.
How you sit at the desk is affected by how your desk is set up. Here are some common problems to avoid.
Working on a laptop: It is impossible to get into an optimal, healthy position when working on a laptop. Instead, connect your laptop to an external monitor set at a proper height and type on a separate keyboard.
Keyboards too high. When your keyboard or desk is too high, it causes you to shrug, which puts tension in your shoulders.
Monitors too low. If your screen is too low, you’ll end up sticking your head out forward like a turtle. This leads to shoulder and neck pain.
Not moving enough. Our bodies want to move. Whether you are sitting or standing all day, move more. Set a timer to go off every 45 minutes to an hour, and when it dings, get up and move around. Stretch, get the blood flowing, focus your eyes on something far away, get a glass of water, and go to the bathroom.
Even if you’re unable to get up every hour, give yourself mini resets. For even just 30 seconds, stretch in your chair, look at the ceiling, move your neck around.
We also recommend downloading timer apps on your computer or phone or investing in a smart watch to remind you to stand up if you’ve been inactive too long.
Expecting perfection eight hours a day. While there is an optimal way to sit at your desk, no one can stay in that position the entire day. When you return to your desk, reset yourself. Whenever you think of it, reset. But don’t beat yourself up for occasionally sliding down the chair.
Working from home – wherever. The Covid-19 pandemic led a ton of people to begin working from home. But since many of these changes happened quickly, it left many people working on the couch or at the dining table, even three years later. If you now work from home, make an investment in an ergonomic setup.
More Ways To Improve Posture At Work
Another effective way to gain some awareness about your posture is to ask someone to occasionally take photos of you throughout the day. People often don’t realize what they look like after working for a few hours. Awareness goes a long way in making improvements.
Because your environment impacts how you move, make sure all of the details set you up for success:
Move Everything Close to Center
If you work on multiple screens and use them all equally, set them up as close to the center of your desk as possible. If you use one screen more than the others, make that the center. You don’t want to spend extended periods of time with your head tilted or your body rotated, because that creates imbalances.
Bring everything you use as close to the center as possible, including your keyboard, mouse, and paper. If you can’t do this, switch sides for equal rotation.
Adjust Your Chair For An Optimal Sitting Position
An ergonomic chair that is adjustable can ensure you sit with your legs at 90 degrees.
Don’t Look Down at Your Phone
We spend so much time looking down at our phones. Instead, bring the screen up to eye level. If you forget (or even if you don’t), offset the habit by looking up and at the ceiling and backward.
So much of what we do as humans is in front of our body. We eat, drive, text, type, cook – most of our experiences are in front of us. So anything we can do to get extension in our mid back, open the pecs and chest, and look upward will make our bodies happy.
Chiropractic Adjustment At Comprehensive Chiropractic
A chiropractic adjustment can provide a reset and leave you with exercises and stretches you can do at home.
Often, these treatments are focused on getting mobility into a fixated joint. When we spend a lot of time in a specific position, the joints get stuck. If you hunch over your computer all day and try to stand up, it might feel pinchy, painful, and uncomfortable to stand upright again, because the joint has become fixated in the bent-over position. A chiropractic adjustment can get those joints moving.