Health Magazine

How To Improve Your Posture

Posted on the 24 June 2011 by Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg

Bad Posture WestLB, 2002I’ve spent the last three days having an absolute blast in Las Vegas with a group of my closest friends.  This is my first time here and my first time actually gambling, so I’m having a ton of fun.  I’ve been keeping up with my marathon training but I did decide to take three days off from my 4 hour body diet.  It’s worth it I think and I’ve been getting good enough results so far that I’m perfectly fine taking a few days off.  Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.  The actual topic is the complete lack of back pain I woke up with this morning.

Wait, why is this special?  Afterall, aren’t we supposed to wake up with a lack of back pain every morning?  Well yah, but we don’t, at least I don’t.  I have had low and mid back pain for many years now.  Nothing severe but it’s definitely noticeable.  So it’s interesting that I woke up without pain morning.  I tried to think about the last few days and figure out if I had done anything specific that might account for this change and the only thing I came up with is the lack of sitting with bad posture.

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer.  It’s part of my work and one of the essential day-to-day tools which I use.  It’s funny though, in all this talk of diets and weightloss, marathon running and exercise, we sometimes lose track of the little things that really help us feel better.  As I sit here, trapped in a car for the next nine hours, I remember one of those little things and how much of an impact it made on my life, proper posture.

The Office Posture Monster

Walk around your office, what do you see?  If you work in a high tech company like mine, you’ll see a lot of people sitting around in poorly fitting chairs, leaning back and destroying their backs.  I say destroying because poor posture is one of those hidden enemies that we don’t really think about and yet has a huge impact.  How many times have you woken up with an aching back?  How many times have you cancelled a workout because your lower back hurt?  Seriously, posture is like sleep, we never think about it but it affects every single part of our life.  It lowers our productivity, ruins our health, adds pain and discomfort to our life and in general makes us miserable.

So, just like I emphasize proper sleep as one of the building blocks of good health, let me spend a bit of time on proper posture.

Sit, Don’t Slouch

This is probably the one single best piece of posture of advice I can give.  STOP SLOUCHNG!  Your mother was right, slouching is bad.  If you find yourself slouching deeper and deeper into your seat, you’re actually hurting your back more and more.  A proper seated position is when where your ass is all the way up in the chair rather than sliding forward towards the front edge of the seat.  You want to slide your rear end all the way back into the chair to make sure that your entire back is making contact with the back rest.

Once you do that, I want you to imagine your back as a straight line.  There should be no bends, no kinks and no curves.  From your butt all the way to your head should be a straight line.  Ideally, your face should be pointing directly forward, not down and your knees should be at a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the ground.

A Few Pointers

One of the most common posture mistakes is poor monitor positioning.  This is especially bad with people who work with laptops.  They tend to put the laptop on the desk in front of them and then slouch all over that small screen.  I suppose you do what you have to do when you’re on the road, but if you’re in an office, you need a better setup.

  • Get a keyboard and make sure it’s at the proper height.  Your elbows, like your knees should be at about a 90 degree angle when your hands are on the keyboard.  Larger keyboards are better than laptop keyboards because your hands won’t be pointed inwards with those.
  • Get a monitor and make sure it’s at eye level.  Remember, face straight ahead.
  • Get a chair with proper back support.
  • Some office chairs will tilt the chair back or the entire chair.  I know this feels comfortable but it’s not.
  • Stop leaning on your elbows
  • Consider a standing position.  Most offices are supportive of this and will allow you to change your desk to support a standing position.
  • Consider sitting on an exercise ball.  This is a trick that will absolutely force you to maintain a good posture since you have no other choice but falling on your ass.

Yes, these are little tips that don’t sound like much.  I realize you come here looking for wonderful reviews of effective diets and how-to videos of kick ass workouts.  Don’t worry, we’ll be back to those next week,

but sometimes it’s the little things that count.  Good posture will make you sleep better, walk better, exercise better and go through life with a lot less pain.  Isn’t that worth a few small changes?

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