With so many of us working full-time in jobs that involve sitting at a desk from 9 until 5, it’s no surprise that back pain is one of the most commonly reported reasons for sickness absence in the UK.
An employer has an important responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of their staff, even if it’s just for productivity reasons. But there’s also a few small changes that you can adopt to improve your posture and fight the effects of long hours spent slouching and improper desk set-ups.
The NHS has very helpfully detailed some of the most common posture mistakes that lead to muscle tension and some exercises that can alleviate any pain. We become used to sitting and standing in specific ways so it takes a bit of practice to correct bad posture, but it can do wonders for your back in the long run!
Something as second-nature as hunching over your computer keyboard or phone can cause stiffness in your upper back or shoulder. This can be corrected with chest stretch exercises and pull-ups. Another common mistake is holding your phone between your ear and shoulder, which places strain on your neck muscles, your upper back and shoulders. Try neck stretches and neck rotations to tackle neck pain or stiffness.
To tackle the problem early and improve your health in the long run, there are some exercises to help prevent the pain that bad posture causes. Try working on your core strength with a workout like yoga or pilates. These both contain exercises that will help you maintain proper posture, as well as stand a bit taller.
Here are some of our favourite yoga poses for a happy back:
- Tree pose – ground your left foot, make sure your shoulders are in line with your hips and elongate your spine. Then, lift your right foot and press your sole against your left inner thigh. Either keep your hands at your heart or reach towards the sky to make you stand tall.
- Downward-facing dog pose – from a hands and knees position, straighten your legs and lift your hips. Press your hands into the ground, relax your neck and lengthen your spine. Feel your body grow long as you take deep breaths and build up your strong and flexible muscles.
- Cobra pose – lie on your stomach with your hands tucked under your shoulders. Press down onto the ground and lift your upper body, bringing your shoulders and back towards the back of the room. Hold this for five breaths, relax and repeat. This will help strengthen your back and improve your posture.
Choose Your Chair Carefully
As you spend the bulk of your day sitting down, you need a chair that supports your back and is suitable for your workspace. There will be less strain on your spine when sitting at a 135-degree angle, but if you don’t like the reclined position then make sure your workspace is set up properly. Your back should be supported, your feet resting comfortably on the floor and your monitor an arm’s length away and at eye level.
If you work from home, make sure the chairs in your favourite spots are comfortable and supportive. Don’t just think about your home office, consider the other cosy corners where you spend a lot of time – finding the right armchair or dining room chair can do wonders.
Do You Feel More Centered?
Tackle muscle pain or a bad back by making some simple changes in the way you hold yourself. It could ease any pains that plague your day or wake you up at night, helping you get a proper night’s sleep as a result. Enjoy major health benefits like better respiratory health and increased energy, whilst also feeling more centred. Poor posture can negatively affect the way we feel about ourselves so correcting this could boost you self-confidence.
Next time you’re slouched at your desk, spare a thought for your wellbeing and sit a little straighter for a happier and healthier day.
What are your doing to improve your posture?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.