How to improve your posture at work and get rid of back pain
Posted by TUDOR URSENTE
A (very) short guide for office humans
Sitting still at the office (well, maybe headbanging from time to time to your favorite tunes), doing the hard work with passion, commitment, dedication and skill. You are one talented office human and that should be rewarding. However, those countless hours spent primarily sedentary can take a toll on your body, bringing all sorts of chronic back pains and even injuries, all of which may translate in the long-term to both health problems and an obvious lack in productivity.
No, the solution might very well NOT be quitting your projects and moving on a beach, sipping margaritas in comfy lawn chairs (but productivity might very well mean the opportunity to enjoy such vacations). However, implementing healthy office routines designed to help fix your posture while working will go a long way.
So, without further ado, here they are:
1. Cut yourself a break
Productivity does not mean working long hours without a stop. It means being able to deliver long term, with responsibility. Listening to your body is extremely important though, for work is by no means a sprint but rather a marathon. That being said, relax (take it eaaaasy) for at least 5 minutes every 30 minutes - to an hour or so. Get up from that chair of yours, do some stretching, let your blood flow without restriction. It will also help counteract slouching. And we should all aim for that. You will feel re-energized and you will be able to continue...to continue.
2. Keep track of any sort of physical pain
We are accustomed to go into alert mode when it comes to pain. However, after years upon years of sitting on a desk, we tend to consider that back pain is ”normal”. A long lasting effect of our commitments. It is not. Is your neck sore? Is your upper body stiff? Try monitoring these symptoms. Write them down and make a calendar, cross referencing symptoms before and after some stretching exercises and some well deserved rest. If those breaks and exercises really improve your overall condition, great, make them a permanent habit. If not, check with your physician. Health remains the most important thing.
3. Being neutral might not be fun but it is healthy
Let us explain that. ”The neutral” is a body posture you should be aiming for. Mainly because...well... it IS the spine’s natural alignment position. Straight from head to toe, it is the definition of perfect posture. Now, after years of office work, that might mean that you will have some catching up to do. Try not to panic. Some steady habits might help your body remember how good it feels to be sitting straight. Not in the first couple of days, of course, those will be hard, but try thinking long term.
In doing so, you will need to pull your shoulders back a little bit and push yourself a little bit into your chair, so that your back will sit flat against it, keeping your device monitor at about the eye level (you might be interested in this article, here: ) and using some kind of lumbar support to prevent spine tilting and slouching. Your feet play a big part in this as well. Try using a little support so that they can lay flat on the ground. A chair with leg support would obviously work best.
4. Sit-stand stations are a wonder
You might be familiar with them. Those desks that are actually adjustable, giving you the possibility to both sit and stand while working, switching back and forth between these two ”styles”. A ”classic” routine usually implies a 40 minutes work flow in a sitting position, followed by a 15 minutes standing position and a small break. These stations might come with a week or so of an ”adapting period” but they are worth it. Totally.
5. Set reminders and those tiny ”achievement gifts”
We know that you probably know that long office hours can take a toll on your body. That exercising, implementing healthy habits and routines will probably help you long term. But it is hard sometimes, is it not? Rewiring yourself?
This is why reminders would work best. ”Compliment them” by adding a twist: a little bonus for you, for every day spent actively trying to improve your health. Maybe with a buck tossed in a jar. Maybe with a spoonful of Nutella. Who knows, you are the boss. Now take a 5 minute break and let that blood flow as it should. You deserve this!