Household Items That Can Help Improve Your Posture
Technology and working habits have wreaked havoc with our posture and muscle strength over the past few generations. We are arguably less robust, resilient, and strong as our forebears, who walked more and stared at screens less. By examining how we interact with such things as chairs, floors, keyboards, and computers, we can explore a few ways in which you can help your body help itself, avoiding long-term health problems down the line.
1. What are the signs of bad posture?
The slump – Slumping or slouching in a chair is a common habit in our generation. It can put more strain on sensitive soft tissues and muscles throughout your neck and back area. It may exacerbate existing tensions, which will in turn cause you more pain.
The bottom – Your bottom, if it sticks out, can indicate that you may have hyperlordosis, which is a curve in your lower back. This inward curve of the lower back can give the impression of a kind of ‘Donald Duck’ walk!
The flat back – Your pelvis can become tucked in, meaning your lower back is too straight. This will result in you stooping forward a little, meaning you find it hard to stand up for long periods.
The one leg tilt – You might find yourself gravitating to one side of your body, so that leg is supporting your body’s weight rather than your core muscles and buttocks. This will have a detrimental effect on your back over time.
The hunched back – Our habitual use of screens and keyboards means that we’re often to be found hunched over a keyboard, which can lead to a rounded upper back and cause stiffness of shoulders and upper back.
The chin poke – If your screen is too high, you’re sitting too low, or are hunched over a keyboard, you might find your chin poking forward more than is natural, which can affect your neck muscles.
The phone cradle – You might be on the office phone a lot as part of your job, which can lead to you writing or typing whilst cradling the phone in your neck area. This can place extra strain on shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles.
2. Can you fix bad posture?
Yes. Here are some ways.
Chair – Your knees, ideally, should be a little lower than your hips, while your feet should be resting comfortably on the floor. It sounds so simple, and yet you’d be surprised by how many times this isn’t the case. Over a long period of time, this can adversely affect your posture.
Floor – Floors are there for your feet to rest thereupon. If both your feet cannot rest comfortably on the floor, get yourself some form of foot-rest to enable this to happen.
Screen – Ensure your screen is about an arm’s length away from your body, and at eye-level. Use a monitor stand or a few supporting books if this isn’t the case. It sounds so simple because it is.
Keyboard – Your keyboard shouldn’t be too far away from you. Keep it close. You should have about 6 inches between you and it, in order to rest your wrists between periods of typing.
Mouse – Your vertical mouse should also be close to you. A wrist pad might come with some mouse pads, which may obviate the need for you to subtly maneuver into awkward positions. If not using your keyboard for a time, move it to the side so as to bring the mouse even nearer to your body.
Objects – Stapler, telephone, and any number of other frequently used objects should be kept as close as possible to your body’s orbit, to avoid straining and stretching your back into ways that are counter-productive to good posture.
Headset – Headsets are not only for those who work in call centers. They can also help you to avoid back and neck strain, if you hold a hand-set for periods of time each day.
Move – Away from your desk, that is. More coffee breaks could mean more trips to the bathroom, which actually helps you to avoid sitting in just one posture for hours on end. Short, frequent breaks are better for your posture than one extended break.
3. Do you need arms on a desk chair?
In a word, yes, but with caveats. For example, they should be set at the correct height and used to rest, not to work. You should not be using them to take a call, read a brief, or discuss projects with colleagues. This will lead to slouching and the wrong alignment of your spine. You also need to ensure that they are stable enough for you to use for leverage. For instance, if you use them to get into and out of office chairs & office stools, they are then helpfully taking the strain off your lower back area.
Overall, whether you work at home or in an office, make sure you take these steps which will encourage good posture. Even when out in the garden you can use other strategies, such as using robot lawn mowers instead of a regular lawn mower. Use technology to your advantage, rather than letting it damage your posture and negatively affect your quality of life.