Poor posture can have negative health effects, but you can do several easy things to keep better posture during the day. Working from home or spending long hours at the office can amplify the potential effects of slouching when you’re working. These effects can include back pain, breathing problems and digestive problems, just to mention a few potential health complications. However, you can try some small changes to help improve posture and hopefully avoid these issues.
Schedule Activity Breaks
Staying in one position too long can increase the tendency to slouch forward. It can also make your shoulders and neck feel stiff and achy. One potential solution is to schedule activity breaks. Consider adding one or more longer breaks for performing some core strengthening exercises and short breaks for stretching. Strengthening core muscles can help you maintain good posture by protecting your spine. However, be sure to check with your doctor before taking on any new exercise regimen.
Try Some Stretching Exercises
In addition to performing some strength-building exercises to support your core muscles, include some stretching exercises in your regular fitness routine. This can mean ergonomic stretches to accommodate the way you move when you’re working. It can also mean yoga stretches as part of your regular workout. Additionally, if you can’t get away from your workstation, consider doing a few desktop yoga stretches to work tightness out of your upper back, shoulder and neck muscles.
Be Aware of Your Posture
Take time to focus on your posture several times during the day, especially if you find you slouch forward when you work. This can apply whether you work in a standing or seated position. When seated, sit up straight. When standing to work, hold yourself upright.
- Consider stretching your arms and shoulders back gently to relieve tension if you find it’s building up in those muscles.
- Draw your abdominal muscles inward while raising the top of your head upward.
- Pull your shoulders back slightly to straighten your spine.
- Try to never be rough with yourself when adjusting your position. This shouldn’t jostle your spine or involve any aggressive movements.
Manage Your Weight
Carrying excess pounds puts extra strain on your spine. It can pull your body in uncomfortable ways. It can also make you slouch forward or lean too far back in chairs when you’re seated for work. If you’re carrying extra weight, losing it can make it easier to improve your posture. If you’re already at a healthy body weight, maintaining it can help you avoid the kind of complications that are caused by poor posture.
Get a Supportive Chair
If your chair holds your body in an uncomfortable position, it can compromise your posture. A chair that’s the wrong height can cause your legs to fall asleep or get stiff when you’re working. Additionally, a chair that offers one person ergonomic support won’t necessarily offer that same level of support for someone who is a different height. Lumbar support can also help some people when it comes to better posture. If you aren’t able to switch chairs, you may be able to add a lumbar pillow to help support your spine.
Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
When you’re working from home, take advantage of having the freedom to switch between working at a desk and standing up to work. Consider getting a standing desk or taking your laptop to the kitchen counter as a way to stretch your legs and avoid sitting in one position for too long. Additionally, it gives you a change of scenery which might improve your mood while supporting your posture.
Understand Your Osteoporosis Risk
With osteoporosis, your bones, including your spine, get weaker and can eventually break. Fighting this disease, which is also referred to as brittle bone disease, can help you keep better posture. Some specific things you can do to support the health of your bones and reduce osteoporosis risk include:
- Eat foods that contain calcium and vitamin D
- Take a supplement that contains calcium and vitamin D
- Engage in weight-bearing exercise
- Avoid exercises that twist your spine
- Avoid actions that make you bend forward frequently
Don’t Curl Up on the Sofa to Work
It can be tempting to take your laptop to your favorite spot on the sofa or your favorite recliner. A short time in your comfortable spot is typically fine. However, it’s generally best to avoid spending long hours working in these positions. Curling up on the sofa, for example, can twist your spine.
Sinking into the plush upholstery of your recliner can also affect the circulation in your legs and cause you to lean to the side if you put your laptop on the arm of the chair. Then, when you try to stand up, you may find yourself stiff and achy with your posture negatively affected.
Position Computer Monitors at Eye Level
An improperly positioned computer monitor can cause you to spend a lot of time leaning forward to see it clearly. You should ideally be able to view the entire screen clearly by moving just your eyes. If you find it’s still hard to see the monitor after it’s adjusted at eye level, you can try increasing the font size on your screen. You can also try adjusting the monitor’s brightness to make it easy to see without compromising your posture by leaning forward.
Protect Your Ears
It might seem like ears are part of a completely different body system than your posture. However, long phone calls can cause you to tip your head to one side, especially if you prop the phone on your shoulder. Using earphones or a headset can make it easier to hold your head upright and maintain good posture when you’re on the phone.