How to Fix Your Deskbound Posture
4 Immediately Actionable Takeaways:
- Move- constantly adapt your seated position. Your next posture is your best posture
- Opt to stand rather than sit. Stand when and where you can include regular breaks from your desk, take the stairs.
- Tuck your chin and extend your chest. Simple cue’s that benefit your spinal alignment and overall posture.
- Uncross your legs/sit flat-footed. This will help with your hip spinal positioning.
One of the unfortunate demands of a desk-based profession is to spend extended periods of time seated during the working day. Now, this may seem more attractive than maneuvering barrel loads of bricks, trawling the deep seas or changing tires for a living; However, is resting those legs beneficial to our health and well-being?
I’m sure, if reading this with the interest of improving your postural health, you agree to the answer being no. However, to provide a conclusive answer, we first must understand those demands placed on the body when seated for periods of time.
Holding any form of posture, good or bad, for hours will place stress on your body. As that demand increases throughout the day, alterations are made to your posture which aims to benefit your immediate level of comfort. This may initially work; however how long does that comfort last for?
What could be the problem?
Let’s take your typical computer monitor set up as an example- you’re set up too far away from your monitor. You adjust your posture to accommodate reading those emails better- the head leans forward.
- As the head leans forward, the chin lifts - creating unnecessary stress for the neck. A known rule of thumb states for every inch of forward lean the head strays away from neutral, adds 10lbs to its weight. Can you begin to understand the reasoning behind that neck pain having been sat for a long time now?
- Snowballing down the body and to compensate for the head and neck, the shoulders begin to cave in round forward - creating tightness in the chest and weakness in the mid back.
- To counteract for that forward shift of the upper body, the hips will typically tilt backward, creating an exaggerated ‘S’ shape like curvature of the spine, placing stress on the lower back also.
- A seated position will also weaken the glutes and lower abdominals whilst tightening the hip flexors- all of which function to control your pelvis.
- Lastly, at the knee joint, the hamstrings begin to become most comfortable in the shortened position and therefore grow tight.
As you can visualise from this example, small details can create large problems.
So how can we combat this?
The below exercises and movements can be completed from the comfort of your desk, home, wherever and should be implemented frequently into your day. Complete sets of 10 or more for each movement. However, quality over quantity!
- Neck and Shoulder Rolls.
- They will help to alleviate stiffness in your neck and strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades, which in turn will help to realign your neck and back.
- Wall Slides (See attached video)
- The main thing to note here is your back remaining firmly against the wall and pinch your shoulders back.
- Chin Tucks.
- This helps to keep your ears in line with your shoulders and prevents the forward lean previously mentioned and all that comes with it!
- External Rotation Desk Pinches
- Rotate your arms to palms facing upwards whilst pulling the shoulders back and down. This will help to strengthen that desired shoulder position.
- Sit Flat Footed.
- Often overlooked, sitting cross-legged or with an awkward stance places unnecessary pressure on your hips, lower back and pelvis.
- Don’t Slouch.
- Aim to remain in a tall posture. Try your best to create a neutral position with the spine. This may involve activating your core!
- Get up and move often.
- If you can't leave the office often, try to incorporate mini-walks into your daily schedule- getting up every hour or so to extending and alleviate those joints. In addition, start taking the stairs and breaks to stand up. Walk to bathrooms and staff rooms that are further away.
Unfortunately, and as referenced towards, that poor posture wasn’t built in a day and nor will it be corrected in such time. Therefore, to benefit posture in the long run, some muscles need to be stretched whilst others need to be strengthened. Stretching and strengthening protocols should be completed daily, again stressing quality of movement first.