How Bad Posture at Work Affects Your Health
Bad posture at work is a common and serious problem which can affect a person in negative ways. It can give rise to several physical and mental health issues, which need to be understood. It is equally important to know how to improve bad posture, to be able to avoid unnecessary complications.
Being designed to move around, the human body is just not made to sit on a chair for several hours for long. Hence, a desk job of sitting in one place whole day long, particularly in a bad posture can cause a variety of complications which can become worse with time.
Bad posture #1: Hunchback
This is when your back forms a C shape at the top of your spinal column. Your spine is supposed to be straight, but becomes curved at this spot.
Cause: Sitting for long hours with bad posture. For instance, sitting hunched over a computer screen.
Symptoms: Pain in the neck, shoulder, and back.
Complications: The bad sitting posture causes the chest muscles to tighten leading to an excessively curved back in the upper back or thoracic region. The muscles of the upper back loosen and eventually weaken.
Upper back foam rolling to increase the mobility of your upper back. Lie on a foam roller placed in the middle of your back and perpendicular to the spine. With your face facing upwards, keep your hands behind your head and bend your upper back over the roller five times. You can repeat for each segment of your upper back by adjusting the roller.
Prone cobra to strengthen the weak muscles in your back. Lie with your face down, arms at the sides, and palms down. Slowly lift your chest and hands off the floor, and press your shoulder blades together, keeping your chin down. Hold this position for five seconds. Do this ten times. Repeat two to three sets daily. Yoga can help correct your posture too. Poses like bhujangasana also help strengthen your back and are extremely effective.
Bad posture #2: Rounded Shoulder
Cause: Sitting with a bad posture while typing, or imbalanced exercise regime involving excessive chest muscle workouts.
Symptoms: Pain in the neck, shoulder, back
Complications: Sitting in that position causes the chest muscles to tighten, causing the shoulders to rotate forward. Apart from that the muscles of the upper back weakens and loosen.
Solution: Stretching to relax the tight chest muscles: Place your arm against the wall on the side of a doorway in a high-five position, with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Take a step through the doorway and you will feel a stretch in your chest and the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 sets of this, four times daily.
Exercise to strengthen the muscle of the back (trapezius): Lie on the floor, face-down, and place both arms at a 90 degree angle in a high-five position. Maintaining the same angle at the elbow, lift both arms by dragging the shoulders backwards and pressing the shoulder blades towards each other. Hold this position for five seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 sets of this, four times daily. Here are some exercises for strengthening the back.
Bad posture #3: Over-Pronated Feet
This is where the arch of your feet are flat causing your ankles to bend slightly inwards or outwards depending on your stance.
Cause: Pregnancy, obesity, inappropriate footwear can weaken the arch resulting in over-pronation of the foot and sometimes flat feet.
Symptoms: Medial knee pain, hip pain, and low back pain.
Complications: It adds pressure on the foot, tightens the calf muscles, and may rotate the knees towards each other. It often results in conditions such as Metatarsalgia (pain in the toes of the feet), heel spurs (growth of an extra bone from the heel), plantar fasciitis (pain in the sole of the foot), and bunions (a condition where the part where the great toe joins the rest of the foot, points outwards).
The best solution is orthotics (devices used to correct the alignment), especially if the arch has fallen or you have a ‘flat foot’. If the arch is weak, walking or running barefoot may help in strengthening the arches. However, orthotics is the best option, so consult your doctor before proceeding.
Bad posture #4: Anterior Pelvic Tilt
A condition where a person’s pelvis tilts forward, pushing his/her torso forward bending the back in an odd position.
Cause: Extended periods of sitting without stretching which tightens the hip flexors (muscles which allow you to move your thighs up towards your abdomen).
Symptoms: Pain in the lower back (this tilt causes your stomach to protrude outwards even though you may not have any belly fat).
Complications: Hip flexors tighten and glutes (muscles of the buttock) become weak.
Solution: Stretch to relax hip flexors: Kneel on one knee and tighten your gluteal muscles (muscles in the buttocks) on the leg you are kneeling on. You will feel a stretch in the front part of your hip. Raise the arm on the same kneeling side and stretch towards the opposite direction. Hold this position for 30 seconds, relax, and repeat again 4 times.
Exercise to strengthen gluteal muscles: Lie down on your back and bend your knees to about 90-degrees. Squeeze your gluteal muscles together and push your hip upwards till your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold this position for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat three times. Do this 10 times daily.
Bad posture #5: Forward Head
Cause: Sitting hunched over in an office chair for long hours, staring at a computer. Take a look at more health problems related to computer and other gadgets.
Symptoms: Pain in the neck
Complications: Tightness of the muscles of the back of the neck, along with the muscles of the upper back (levator and upper trapezius).
Stretches to loosen tight muscles in the back of the neck: Perform daily head nods. Move your head, dropping your chin downwards and in towards your neck. This stretches the back of the neck. Hold the position for 5 seconds and repeat ten times.
Exercise to strengthen the weak muscles in the front of the neck: Lie on the floor, face-up, and lift your head up from the floor. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat ten times. Although these are just a few of the many postural problems people experience today, we hope this article helps you become more aware of your posture and make conscious decisions every day to develop and maintain good posture habits.
How to Solve Bad Posture at Work
So we’ve seen from the above that there are remedies for all posture-related issues, but the easiest way to avoid bad posture is to entirely eliminate it. Ergonomic office chairs offer the support that we need to ensure a workday in a healthy and productive manner.
Read more about ergonomic office chairs below:
Cover Image Credit: CareDash