Does The Perfect Posture Exist?
Are you sitting comfortably…because in one word the answer is, NO!
Posture | The Myths
If you type into Google ‘perfect posture’ you’ll be hit with over 80 million links on postural braces, correction devices, expensive ergonomic chairs, desk equipment, before and after photos of upright and slumped models, and quick fix fads like ‘get the perfect posture in 30 days’. Why does such a dry topic like posture get so much attention? Well to put it bluntly, because we have got it wrong. It’s reported 2.5 million people suffer from back pain each day, costing the economy £22billion annually in lost work days and human resources spending on office equipment and training.
We believe that the cause of this pain is due to ‘bad posture’, a paranoia we have created through generations of being taught to ‘sit up straight’ and ‘mind your back’. A perfect posture perception that good posture means shoulders back and arching the lower spine, compared to a bad posture with a slumped position and rounded shoulders. In other words, a complete myth!
Look at it logically.
Our DNA, the blueprint on which our bodies are designed, holds millions of endless possibilities, giving every person and their body unique physical individualities. It is therefore naive to believe we should all sit and stand the same in order to cure our back pain.
The human body was simply designed to move. It is incredibly resilient. It was not designed to sit in a chair for 8 hours+ a day, 5 days a week, 50+ weeks of the year…and we wonder why it begins to falter. Research has shown there is no clear relationship between so called ‘bad posture’ and back pain. We can certainly aggravate a sore body part with sitting, however…
The reason is not because we don’t have the best posture, it’s because we have been static for too long. The body stiffens and weakens becoming less resilient. Movement is key!!
Posture | The Answers
Unfortunately the phrase ‘working from home’ has become all too familiar over the past year but like it or not, this will be the new norm for millions of people all over the world. Makeshift desk set ups will become a permanent feature in many households. Zoom meetings will be the main way to connect with colleagues, and the kitchen will become the new coffee shop. Basically meaning the chances to actually get up and move will become fewer and far between. As we mentioned above, more static postures can aggravate common conditions such as neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain.
5 Top Tips
Below are our 5 top tips to ensuring your working day doesn’t become a pain:
Set An Alarm To Move
Motion is lotion. Joints and muscles need movement to lubricate and reduce stiffness. Whether it’s your fancy new Fitbit or Google watch, or just an alarm on your screen.
We advice you move every 30mins in your chair AND every 60mins out of your chair.The Physios, Sheffield
Whether it’s a toilet break, coffee or quick snack you shouldn’t be sat in your chair for more than 60 mins without getting up and moving. Below are 3 simple chair exercise sequences for your neck, trunk and lower back. Try these every 30mins.
Mobile Working Is Better Than 1 Perfect Position
A wise person said ‘you can’t polish a turd’. Being static for too long in 1 position increases stiffness. Most people nowadays have mobile units to work from so we advise taking advantage of this. Rather than be stuck at your new Ikea desk or the old dining table all day, change your position and posture completely.
Do some work at the table but then move to use a standing desk, lay on the couch, sit outside on the garden furniture (if it’s not the middle of winter), or challenge your posture and have a sit on a swiss ball for a short while. ‘Same same’ is boring. Your body likes variety. Both physically and mentally.
We advise trying at least 1-2 different work station positions every day if possible.The Physios, Sheffield
Re-establish good old habits. Recognise that the easy 2 min walk to the next meeting, nearest coffee shop or favourite sandwich place may no longer be there as part of your normal daily routine. Just that short period of movement is key, and it’s essential to keep these habits going.
For example, if your commute would normally have involved walking or cycling then aim to keep doing this before you start your working day. Or introduce some form of movement out of your seat prior to and after the next Zoom meeting.
Fitness & Wellbeing
Stretching in your chair or moving to get a drink in the day just simply isn’t good enough to counteract the hours of static postures. Functional movement is imperative! Be it something simple as going for a walk or run, or more challenging such as a Pilates or HIIT class. Check out our advice on getting started with running or taking up Clinical Pilates.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advice adults between 16 – 64 years should do a minimum of 150mins of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75mins of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both each week.
Both physical and mental health are vital to helping reduce classic aches and pains. Read more here on the WHO’s proven benefits to being more active.
Desk Set Up Hacks
3 simple and effective pointers to look out for when you have to be sat at your desk.
- Firstly, get your foundation right. Bum to the back! If you have a solid base then everything stacks up better. Your head remains within your base of support.
- Second, screen height. Ensure your eyeline hits the centre of your screen. Typically this can be too low for most and cause a forward head posture, or pokey chin. Raise it up, and certainly invest in a stand and portable keyboard using a laptop.
- Finally, make sure your mouse and keyboard are close enough. We recommend no more than the length of your forearm away from your trunk. Check out our ‘Working From Home’ Video here.
Pilates is one of the specialist services we use to help prevent and improve classic symptoms aggravated with static postures. To understand what it’s all about click here.
For more information on the conditions we treat look here.View more articles from Jon Grayson