“Sit/Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back!” Have you heard that before? Maybe from mom or dad? Or maybe a grade school teacher? Or maybe it was from me. Flex Level Fitness followers and clients know the multiple meanings of this imperative. For today, though, we’ll keep it in the context of ergonomics.
Ergonomics-the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. An ergonomist aims to eliminate discomfort and risk of injury due to work
Now more than ever I hear people complain of back pain, neck pain, general discomfort, or tightness along their posterior chain. I have no doubt that for many, there is a strong correlation between these pains and the fact that they are spending a far greater amount of time sitting in static posture for the better part of 5 days a week or more than they were used to pre-Covid related changes. Ironically, our health is suffering the consequences.
Since so many companies have opted to allow employees to work from home, many of you now find yourselves within a stone’s throw of the kitchen, and sedentary nearly all day long. With this comes prolonged periods of sitting at a desk, likely staring at a screen, and very possibly in a static posture that lends itself to muscle tightness, compromises spine health, and may cause undue wear and tear on your joints.
In the absence of a standing desk, which has drastically increased in popularity in recent months, I can tell you a few tactics that clients have used to stay active and on their feet, thus also avoiding the potential weight gain that can occur when we don’t move enough.
1. Schedule movement breaks every hour
Do you have a dog that could use an extra walk? A household responsibility that takes 10-15 minutes? Set an alarm and move every hour.
2. Eat intentionally
Do not wait until your stomach is rumbling to eat. Either follow a structured diet that will keep you honest, or seek professional help to have a customized diet designed for you that will allow you to plan ahead and eat when scheduled, reducing binges and snacking, and provide accountability.
3. Stand/walk for calls
Studies have shown that we tend to sound more confident, and are more likely to develop a normal pattern of conversation when standing during phone calls. Now, you can also use calls as a time to stand up and get out of that seated position that undoubtedly grows uncomfortable regardless of the posture.
4. Stay hydrated
Sitting or standing, stay hydrated. You will not believe the difference you notice if you begin drinking an adequate amount of water. Better digestion, clearer skin, improved energy, faster recovery. The list is endless. Drink up.
Now, for the hours that you are seated, you’ll want to avoid developing bad habits. Simply stated, “sit up straight with your shoulders back.” Concisely put, but oversimplified.
How to Sit Properly
Here are a few tips for developing proper static posture while sitting from Jennifer Huizen’s article “Sitting Positions for Good Posture” which was published in Medical News Today in May 2018:
Keep the monitor at arm’s length and no more than 2 inches above the natural line of sight
Use an ergonomic chair, a yoga ball, or a knee chair
Using a headset for long calls or dictating to reduce neck strain
Use the keyboard and mouse close together to avoid reaching
AVOID sitting slumped to one side with the spine bent
AVOID keeping the knees, ankles, or arms crossed
AVOID sitting in a position that does not fully support the back, especially the lower back
Read the rest of the Sitting Positions for Good Posture article for more tips!
Neither a home office nor most commercial offices invite much movement. Still, you can do a lot to improve your health simply by improving your posture with a few tips. If working while seated at a desk for hours and hours a week looks like it will be the norm for you for the foreseeable future, investing in ergonomically designed products and learning to sit properly…up straight with your shoulders back, will go a long way in helping you to avoid injuries, strains, and soreness.
The staff at Impact Fitness and Flex Level Fitness and Nutrition hope you are having a great summer and have loved seeing so many of you enjoying the recent great weather. If you are looking for a boost to your training and/or nutrition regimen, stop by the front desk, or reach out to us on social media to schedule a time to review your options and see how we can help get you in the best shape of your life like we have so many others!