Helpful Ergonomic Tips for Better Posture at Work
This article was provided by Dr. Ahren Roy, a chiropractor at In Touch Chiropractic in Vancouver, BC. If you would like to learn more, please visit https://www.intouchchiropractic.ca/.
We all know posture is important…but how important is it really?
Our spine houses and maintains a major part of our nervous system, which is responsible for the management of our body. When we have poor posture, we affect the health of our spine … which affects the health of our nervous system … which affects the health of our whole body. Small changes to improve our posture throughout our day can make a HUGE difference in our long-term health.
So how do we start improving our posture? A great first step to is to focus on the activities we spend the most time participating in. For most of us, work is where we spend the majority of our waking hours – it’s also often where we develop poor posture habits that can easily be modified for the greatest results.
Just think about it… how many hours each day do you spend sitting at a desk? How often do you get out of your chair? Bringing awareness to body position throughout the week can save us from considerable health challenges and discomfort later on in life.
Here are some simple tricks for managing your posture at work:
- Grab a seat in your chair, and take a look at your computer monitor. Do you find yourself looking up or down? Or to one side? We want to keep our neck in a neutral position when we are spending time at a computer or work station. Let’s start by adjusting the position of your monitor, so that it sits directly in front of you, with the middle of the screen in line with your gaze while you are looking straight ahead. This may require investing in an adjustable table top stand, or propping the screen up with some books to achieve the right position. This strategy can be applied to all screens – think about your cell phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, etc. Looking down at a phone screen for extended periods of time is now a very common repetitive stress injury which is affecting our children and teens. This is so common now we have a catchy term for it: “Text neck”. We see this “text neck” postural stress causing significant spinal degeneration in young adults, something we have not seen historically.
- Now let’s think about your chair. Do your knees fall below your hips? Are your feet touching the floor? Take advantage of any built-in chair modifiers or use pillows to achieve these two points to support your low back. While you’re in your chair, you can also take a few moments each day to do some neck and shoulder stretches (there are lots of apps for setting daily reminders on your phone or computer to help prompt you!).
- When using standard mouse or a laptop touchpad, how are your hands and wrists positioned? Are you straining to hold a certain wrist position when you use your mouse? Try to arrange your station to allow for a neutral wrist position which falls in line with the mouse pad. Avoid having your wrists bent forward or backward, or to one side – you will notice that holding these troublesome positions for a period of time will cause discomfort or muscle cramping in the forearms, wrists, or hands.
- Do you talk on the phone often? If you often have long calls or need to multi task (type notes, write, search the computer) while on the phone then consider investing in a wireless headset – this will save you from having to hold that phone to your ear with your shoulder to free up your hands. This could be a simple investment such as a set of headphones or an upgrade to a Bluetooth heads.
- Do you sit at your desk for longer than 30 minutes at a time? Sitting down puts stress on our low back, and when we sit for longer than 30 minutes that stress physically changes how our low back functions and protects itself. Do your best to get up out of your chair every 30 minutes, especially if you suffer from low back discomfort.
- Are you noticing these poor posture habits in those around you? Consider starting a posture awareness campaign at the office! Accountability groups only help to solidify new and healthier habits. Take note of each others’ common daily postures, remind each other of daily stretching, and take a brief walking breaks each hour when sitting for long periods of time.
Small changes do make a huge difference when it comes to our daily routines, even choosing just one or two of these suggestions to implement this year will give you great health benefits! If you have any additional questions or concerns about your posture or your health, visit your local chiropractor for an assessment.