With so many of us sitting at desks for a significant part of the day, posture is a crucial element of health that is often overlooked, even by the most health conscious. It is not just office chairs that can have a negative impact on posture and body ergonomics either. Holding a phone to your ear, carrying a bag, driving and even sleeping in the wrong position can all take away from your standard position. Ideally, you will be able to make some changes to your routine to cut out or minimise the impact of these habits. However, people generally only look for ways to improve their posture when some of the damage is already done.
The following 10 tips have been selected to help with general body ergonomics and posture issues. We are confident that one or more of them together will be able to set our readers on the way to quickly correcting their posture and improving their overall wellbeing.
1. Be Aware of Warning Signs
Back and shoulder pain can be caused by multiple factors, but poor posture is a regular contributor. One of the best ways to tell is to mentally note when such pains are at their worst. If you have back pain when you leave work in the week but tend to find yourself being pain-free at weekends, then it could be something as simple as your office chair. Other tell-tale signs include pain that begins in the neck before moving downwards to the back and arms or sudden pain that can come and go after changing job, car or chair.
2. Focus on Body Alignment when Sitting or Standing
Something as simple and ordinary as standing can affect your posture. If you find yourself encountering issues, it can be worth focusing on spreading your weight evenly between the feet. Ideally, your weight will not only be equally divided but will also make regular use of the front, back and sides of the feet when in a standing position.
When sitting, it is also all about positioning yourself correctly. Most chairs come with ergonomic features that should be used to the fullest extent, but the user of the chair can also focus on ensuring that they are always sitting up straight, aligning the hips and shoulders in a straight vertical line.
3. Move Around as Often as Possible
Various tasks require the individual to remain seated or in the same position for extended periods, and the longer you are still, the more significant the health impact can be. Muscles will tire even when seated, and that makes it easier to slouch over or leave the ideal position. At the very least, people that do remain seated for a while should focus on changing position. Even better than this is getting up and walking around every 30 minutes wherever possible.
4. Make Use of Dedicated Ergonomic Tools
If your pain is related to a specific scenario, it can be worth using tools and products that are dedicated to improving comfort and ergonomics. For those that are often seated, back supports, footrests and small pillows can all assist with maintaining the correct posture. In other cases, it can be worth seeking out items that have been designed with ergonomics in mind, such as bags and purses.
5. Take Time to Identify Ergonomic Issues
The chances are that by the time you read this article, you will already be accustomed to your home and working environments. That makes it all important to take a step back and give the area a look over for ergonomic issues. Naturally, it is difficult to solve a problem if you are unaware of what the problem is, and an hour spent sorting out facilities can save months of pain.
6. Easy Exercises can Assist with Posture
If you do not find yourself moving around much each day, you will generally find that your posture is worse compared to those that do. The body naturally adopts the correct posture for exercises like walking and cycling as that represents the best way of tackling these tasks. The muscles in the back will be worked out at the same time, making it much easier to maintain correct posture at other times.
7. Consider Ergonomic Footwear
We mentioned early in this feature that posture is always aided when weight is spread evenly across both feet. If this is something that proves difficult, or you simply forget, you may want to consider special footwear that is designed with ergonomics in mind. Even without specific shoes, it is possible to get your hands on inserts that promote stronger posture when standing and walking.
8. Posture is Affected by Moving
Sitting and standing have been identified as core causes of bad posture, but it is also important to consider your range of motion. Walking around, typing, speaking on the phone and many other tasks can promote bad posture as individuals focus on their specific comforts for the task at hand without giving due consideration to their core ergonomics. Existing back pain can also be exacerbated by those that do not take care when moving and lifting.
9. Try Dedicated Posture Exercises
It is never too late to adopt the correct posture and fix some of the damage that has been done, but those with particularly poor postures may wish to consider specific exercises. Yoga has been proven to aid with posture, and there are various exercises that often involve standing against a flat surface that will directly tackle the issue and promote excellent positioning going forward.
10. Try Not to Overdo It
If your priority is to improve your posture as quickly as possible, it can be tempting to devote entire exercise routines to doing so. As with anything physical, doing too much in a short space of time can actually yield negative results. A relaxed posture is best in most cases, regardless of the task, and it is not necessary to rigidly stand up straight at every opportunity.