Many of us have seen this photo. It’s one of those “funny because unfortunately it’s true” situations – it makes you think about how we spend the majority of our days. But even with this knowledge, we still go back to our desk and perpetuate the same poor posture as before. The reason is basic – most people simply do not pay enough attention to their posture and do not know how make good posture a regular part of their routine. The good news is that it’s easier to change than you think! Are you ready for good posture?? Here are some tips for keeping your spine healthy during the workday and a few very important exercises to do at home:
1) Pay attention to your body. Start by becoming aware of how you are sitting whenever you can, and taking action if you notice unhealthy posture or pain. It’s important to keep in mind that pain is not usually the first indicator of poor posture; you may feel no pain until you come out of your position.
2) Make sure your feet are well planted on the ground and bearing weight. Be careful about crossing your legs too much as this can create hip and leg pain due to over stretching of the outer hip.
3) Alternate between siting up straight with your back against the chair and sitting at the edge of your seat with a long spine. This variation can help you to hold your posture more comfortably.
4) Place your computer screen at the natural angle of your eye gaze. You may need to find something to elevate your computer.
5) Invest in an ergonomic low-back rest for your office chair. These allow the natural curve of the spine to be supported.
6) Get up from your desk and walk around every 30 min. I know this may seem like quite often, but it is key in helping to counteract the constant sitting and hunching. Even a well-aligned seated position is tiring for the body to hold up over a long period of time.
7) Enjoy a stretch break at LEAST once a day! You can follow along with my yoga at your desk video below or do some stretches on your own. Make sure to breathe deeply and take your time while stretching.
8) Stay well hydrated. Hydration is actually vital in keeping your spine long and healthy. The discs between the vertebrae are filled with water and when that water becomes depleted you lose your shock absorption, which can cause pain, injury and a shortening of the spinal column. This is why many older people actually become shorter. So make sure to stay hydrated! Try for 64 ounces (which equates to two large Nalgenes) or more a day.
9) Strengthen your core. Your core is essential in keeping you upright. Many posture and back issues are due to weak core muscles. Make core work a priority.
10) Lay your upper back over a rolled up blanket with a block under your head. This is an extremely effective way to help reverse the rounding of the spine caused by sitting at a computer. This is a great practice to do in the evening before bed. See photos below: