Anyone who works in an office knows that sitting at a desk for too long will wreak havoc on their lower back, shoulders, and neck. By the time they get home, they can be in agony just from sitting all day. If this is you, you are probably wondering if there’s something you can do to fix the problem. Truth be told, the problem isn’t that you are sitting too much. Although it does contribute to your stiffness, the main problem is likely your posture.
Posture is a window into our spines. When we slouch or hunch over, we put excessive stress on our spine’s joints and ligaments. If left for too long, our spines can slowly become misaligned and throw our bodies out of balance. Our muscles begin to strain, and you feel sore and stiff in your back, shoulders, and neck. The only way to prevent this from happening is to work on your posture. If you find yourself continually slouching or hunching over, we recommend following these seven quick tricks to improve your posture.
Concentrate on How You Sit
One of the quickest and easiest ways to fix your posture is to be more mindful of how you sit. Most office workers spend the majority of their waking day sitting in a chair. After several hours with your head tilted down to look at your computer or shoulders slouched back in your chair, you will begin to feel the effects of bad posture. We recommend focusing on four points:
- Line of sight – If your computer is not perpendicular to your natural line of sight, you ought to raise the monitor or prop it up using a shelf or a few books. This will keep your head in its natural position, eliminating neck strain from staring down all day.
- Shoulders – Your shoulders should be rolled back and kept at a 90-degree angle to achieve the best posture. Be conscious of not slouching in your shoulders, as this can quickly turn into a full-body slump.
- Lower Back – As comfortable as it may be to slump down in your chair, it puts stress on your spine and spinal ligaments. If focusing on your posture is too difficult, you can try placing a pillow behind your back for added support.
- Feet – Try your best to keep your feet planted on the ground and facing forward. This prevents any additional stress caused by rotating your hip joints.
Good posture shouldn’t end as soon as you get out of your chair. Continue focusing on both your shoulders and lower back as you stand and walk. Holding your shoulders back, chest out, and head to the ceiling helps to lengthen the spine and fight the effects of gravity. You’ll not only feel better but also look more confident and feel less worn out by long walks.
As you take steps, plant your feet into the ground and shift your weight through your shoulders. If you feel like a superhero as you walk, you’re doing it right. It may feel silly at first, but you’ll look like you’re ready to take on the world to other people.
Buy a New Bag
Sometimes we are not entirely to blame for our own bad posture. If you’ve ever carried a heavy bag over a long distance, you know that even the slightest imbalance in the straps or the weight will cause one shoulder to hurt more than the other. But as soon as you remove the bag and stretch, the pain goes away. It might not be all that surprising, but if you experience this every day, it’s a sign the problem is with your bag
If this is the case for you, we recommend making a few small changes. First, try to lighten your load. If you’re carrying unnecessary items, take them out and leave them at home. Alternatively, consider buying a new bag. Ditch the single straps in favor of a quality backpack. Two straps will distribute weight more evenly than a single strap and help reduce the stress on your shoulders and lumbar region.
Three Conditions Affecting Your Posture
Be honest; on an average day, how often do you look down to check your phone? Odds are, its over twenty times. If that’s the case, you are putting a lot of extra stress on your neck. Instead of looking down to check your phone, hold it out in front of you. Forward head posture helps reduce neck pain by easing up some of the weight our heads put on our necks.
On the other hand, slouching and leaning forward are not the only causes of bad posture. Sway back—when you lean backward rather than forward—is just a bad. This is usually caused by weak abdominal muscles and hints at poor flexibility. If you find yourself leaning back even when standing, you might have sway back.
However, if you find that you often lean to the side, even without trying, you may have a case of scoliosis. Scoliosis is a slight sideways bend in the spine that can become painful and debilitating if left too long. If you suspect that you might have scoliosis, we recommend taking to a doctor who can provide the appropriate test.
Switch Up How You Sleep
Changing up how you sleep isn’t the easiest thing to do. Most people sleep in specific ways, and if they start messing with that routine, they can suffer sleepless nights until their bodies adjust. However, we recommend that you make a few small adjustments, regardless of what position your sleep in. These are all intended to give you added support and could even make you more comfortable in bed.
Side Sleepers – Place a pillow between your knees. The added support will keep your top knee from misaligning your spine. It also helps reduce strain in your hip and lumbar region.
Stomach Sleepers – As funny as it sounds, you would do better to put a pillow under your pelvis if you sleep on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach with a full pillow under your head causes your spine to bend backward while you sleep, and come morning, your lower back will be more than ready to realign to its natural shape. A pillow under your pelvis provides the support your spine needs to stay aligned as you sleep.
Back Sleepers – Alternatively, if you sleep on your back, you should put a pillow under your knees. This will help support the natural curve in your spine rather than flattening it out throughout the night.
Also, consider your mattress and pillow. If you wake up sore and stiff, it’s likely because your mattress and pillow are too soft or too firm. Try to find a bed in the Goldilocks zone that perfectly suits your body.
If you work from home or in an office, set reminders throughout the day to get up and walk around. Movement is the best remedy for stiff joints and a slouching posture. Throw in a few upward- and side-stretches and try to touch your toes. Adding some movement into your day will help your posture and also get your blood pumping.
Once you get home, try to work in some proper exercises. A strong back and core are crucial to healthy posture and building those muscle groups will take some of the stress off your joints and ligaments. Planks are an excellent option because they work all of your back and core without stressing your spine in ways that crunches and sit-ups can do. If you practice yoga, be sure to listen to your body and avoid hyperextensions. While stretching is healthy and beneficial, you can end up causing more damage if you overdo it.
Invest in Lumbar Support
If you’ve already tried retraining yourself to sit up straight, but it just hasn’t worked, you could try using an ergonomically designed pillow for added lumbar support. These pillows are usually made of memory foam and help give your back additional support. When added to an office chair, the memory foam slowly takes your back’s shape, helping to retrain how you sit. Your back will feel better thanks to the added cushioning, and your posture will improve over time.
However, if you struggle to maintain good posture as you walk, you might benefit from a support belt. Although these belts are intended to shift weight away from the lumbar region while lifting, they can also help hold your lower back in place. With a limited range of motion, you will be more inclined to stand up straight and improve your posture.
Better Posture is a Better Life
Good posture isn’t tricky. When you take the time to improve how you hold yourself, you slowly begin to find improvements throughout your whole life. With less back pain, you will feel happier, healthier, and more confident, and have the motivation to take up new hobbies. Without having to toss and turn to find the most comfortable position, you’ll even sleep better at night. By merely focusing on how you sit and stand, and remembering to look up, exercise, and stretch, you can become your best self.