Posture at work varies according the the kind of job people do: some people spend most of their time sitting at a desk, others standing up and some sat in a vehicle driving around most of the day.
However, posture problems associated with the workplace are relatively common and with a little thought it’s quite simple to improve posture at work and reduce the risk of neck pain and back pain.
If you sit at a desk:
People who spend all – or most – of their day sitting at a desk need to look at two main things.
Firstly the height of their computer screen and secondly the height and position of their chair.
Getting the height of the monitor right helps ensure that you don’t hunch forward too much, as does ensuring it’s not too far from the eyes as, again, you will probably find yourself hunching forward to read what’s on the screen.
According to world-renowned surgeon and physiologist, Adalbert Kapandji, “For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” (Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol.3). This helps to understand why poor head posture can strain the neck and back muscles.
Many people have a tendency to sit forward on the edge of their chair when working at a desk. Expert opinion says it’s better to sit right back in the chair so that the in-built lumbar support will help push the spine into a corrected lumbar position – reducing strain on the spine and muscles.
Pulling the chair as close to the desk as possible will obviously be beneficial, so too will ensuring the angle of the legs drops slightly so that the knees are lower than the buttocks. This can be achieved fairly easily by raising the height of the chair and/or tilting the seat forward slightly. Keeping feet flat on the floor is also highly recommended.
Remember, it’s important to take a break periodically – get up and walk around for a short while to flex the muscles and undo muscular tensions.
If you stand all day:
Commonly, people who stand for most of the day at work tend to adopt a posture where they put more weight on one side of the body than the other – drop a shoulder and lean slightly to one side.
If it was possible to see through the body to the spine you would see the poor shape being adopted and understand how much stress was being put on muscles to compensate.
When standing at work try to ensure you stand with the spine straight rather than slouched to one side. Keep the chin up so it’s centred over the shoulders and try to keep the feet apart slightly less than shoulder-width.
If possible, try not to stand for prolonged periods – sit down whenever possible, even if only for a short period of time.
Finally, think about footwear – comfort and practicality wins out over fashion and discomfort every time…..avoid heels if at all possible!
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