We all know the importance of great posture at work. Poor posture can lead to back and neck pain and tension, headaches, nerve pain, stress, poor digestion, insomnia, the list goes on…
Poor posture can manifest from bad habits that are repeated daily. Small things can develop into big problems very quickly but with some simple and easy adjustments, great posture is achievable.
1. Correct Workstation Ergonomics.
Today many employees sit in front of the computer for the majority of the day so its important to have the correct workstation setup. The Computer monitor should be directly in front of you, the top of the screen at eye level so your head has a slight tilt down.
To check your head tilt stand against a wall with your whole body including your back and head against it. Note how your chin tilts down slightly. This angle should be maintained at your workstation so set up the monitor screen height to support that tilt.
Sit as far back in the chair as possible to support your lumbar spine (lower back). Hips and knees should be at least 90 degrees, and both feet should be flat on the floor. You may need to use a footstool if you find your feet don’t rest comfortably on the floor.
Keyboard, mouse, telephone and documents should all be within easy reach. If you use the mouse a lot or for certain tasks, move the keyboard to the side so the mouse is in front of you, and vice versa. if you use the telephone a lot, request a headset.
2. Schedule Regular Posture Checks
Getting entrenched in a task often leads to bad habits; slumped posture, crossed legs, rounded back, raised shoulders. Clients often say to me “I don’t have enough time to focus on my posture, I’m too busy”. Regular pop up reminders are a great way to ‘check in’ on what our shoulders, neck, back and legs are doing. After a while bad habits will be replaced with good habits as our bodies relearn how to sit well.
3. Take Regular Breaks.
Creating focused, productive and efficient work hours means our body and mind has to be in tip-top shape in order to operate effectively. Tension, fatigue, and stress hinder the ability to work well. Mini breaks blast away the cobwebs and shake things up – literally. A walk to the water dispenser, a chat with a colleague, laughter and breathing are all great ways to recharge and refresh tired eyes, sore shoulders and a stiff neck.
4. Awareness is Key.
A holistic approach to our health and wellness has many knock on effects. Greater awareness of cause and effect of posture, or lack of it in turn creates a greater understanding of pain and tension and how to manage it. Being aware of bad habits means small steps can be implemented to correct the small yet significant elements that cause poor posture. The effects are tangible with less pain, tension and headaches.
5. Yoga Stretches.
It’s important to take regular min breaks and leave your workstation for small durations but it’s also just as important to stretch regularly to stop stiffness and pain settling in. Stretch for 1 minute every 30 minutes of sitting and you will feel more energised, focused and less tense. Five of my favourite stretches for neck and shoulders, rhomboids (upper back) and pecs (chest) follow.
a. Neck and shoulder stretch.
Part A. Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor. Put your right hand up and over your head, resting on your left ear. Keeping your eyes facing forward, gently tilt your head sideways, so your right ear tilts towards the floor. When you feel a comfortable stretch in your trapezius, (muscle running from your ear to shoulder), count for five seconds. Release and do the same on the other side.
Part b. A variation on Part a, but first turn your head 45 degrees to the left so your chin is near your left shoulder. Tilt your head to the right and you will experience stretch in a different part of your trapezius. Repeat the process on the other side, moving your head in small increments to the left and then right to stretch the whole range of the trapezius. (refer to image below for reference)
b. Rhomboid Stretch.
A great stretch to open up the deep muscles in the back, areas that do hold onto stress and tension. Stretch your arms out in front, palms together. Cross your elbow and twist your hands to form a figure eight. Bend your elbows so forearms are at right angles. Gently raise your hands up and you will feel a stretch in your rhomboids (in between your shoulder blades.) Hold for 5 seconds. Ahh….Bliss…
c. Overhead Arm Stretch.
Link your fingers together and raise your arms straight up over your head, in line with your ears, arms as straight as you can. Hold for 5 seconds.
d. Pectoral Stretch.
Your body works in unison and when shoulders become rounded and slumped, your pecs (chest muscles) are shortened which adds to poor posture. To create balance we need to stretch our pecs too. Stand next to a wall with your arm outstretched, hand at shoulder height. Slowly step forward whilst keeping your arm where it is and you will experience a lovely stretch in your rotator cuff and pecs. Hold for five seconds and repeat on the other side.
6. Exercise and Eat Great Food Everyday.
Prevention is better than cure and a healthy body performs better, is more responsive and sick less often. Treat your body like a temple by eating well and exercising regularly and muscle tension, stiffness and headaches will make way for an energised, endorphin filled productivity machine.
Implementing a regular corporate massage program at work is the best way to prevent muscle stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders. We often see clients who have chronic neck and shoulder pain, suffer headaches and have so much tension is their rhomboids and shoulders its more like concrete than muscle tissue.
Thankfully we also see amazing results with regular treatments and it thrills me when I talk to clients about their ongoing headaches and they state matter of factly they don’t suffer from headaches anymore. Reap the rewards of ongoing seated massages and book a corporate massage treatment for your team today. Call 2 Hands Corporate Massage on 1800333807 to find out more, or click here to read more on sit to stand desks.