The things we do for a few seconds, minutes, or hours at a time every day can make all the difference in our health and well-being. The problem is that we don't often think about them—especially when it comes to posture.
As we spend more and more time in front of a screen, many of us are developing poor posture that can lead to neck and back problems. Good posture not only makes you look great; it can also help you live longer and be more productive. But if you're like most people, your posture probably isn't as good as it could be.
Fortunately, there are simple tricks you can do to improve your posture and avoid pain! Learn the common mistakes most people make when sitting, standing, and lying down and the small things you can do to make significant changes.
We all know that slouching is bad for our posture, but did you know it's also bad for your breathing? Slouching compresses the lungs, making it difficult to get enough air. This can lead to shortness of breath, making you feel fatigued.
In addition to that, poor sitting posture can lead to back pain because sitting forces the body into a position that puts stress on the lower back.
Fix: Place a small pillow in the middle of your back to support it. If you are working on a computer, adjust your monitor so that it is at eye level.
Extra info (optional): Don't sit with your feet flat on the ground. Instead, place one foot slightly forward on the floor so that you have to use muscles in your leg, core, and back to stay stable while seated. You could also consider standing while working from time to time, especially when you are most busy working on your laptop.
Standing with your weight on one foot
Bad standing posture can cause lower back pain because most people stand with their weight evenly distributed between both legs when they should be shifting their weight from side to side or from leg to leg.
Fix: Practice shifting your weight from side-to-side or changing which foot is bearing most of your weight as you stand for long periods of time (e.g., while waiting in line).
When standing still, try putting one hand on one hip—this will help correct improper standing by making you aware of how much you're shifting your weight to one side instead of keeping it even between both legs.
Extra info (optional): You can also try out exercises like plank, side-lying leg raise, and bridging. If you’ve been working on a standing desk, you could also consider using a balancing board.
Closed Elbows and Shrugged Shoulders
This position is caused by a low chair or a keyboard that is too near your body, resulting in locked elbows, shoulders, and wrist flexion.
- Adjust your seat height so that your elbows are at an open 90-110 degree angle, and pull your seat back if necessary.
- Relax your shoulders and rotate them outward, producing an upside-down "V" shape with the keyboard.
- If you need to obtain that angle, consider using a split keyboard.
Sitting with your chin jutted out
Sitting with your chin jutted out is a common mistake, especially when you're trying to relax in the car on the way home from work. But it can lead to neck pain and headaches, so it's worth correcting this habit.
Fix: Whenever you notice yourself with your chin sticking out, take a deep breath and pull your head back into the proper position—chin tucked in, shoulders down, chest open.
At first, it should feel like a stretch in your upper back at first as muscles release the tension they've been holding onto all day long. Hold this position for five breaths before resuming regular breathing again. Repeat as needed throughout the day until it becomes second nature!
Crossing your legs too much
Crossing your legs too much can cause back pain, tightness in the hips, hamstrings, calves, poor circulation, and poor posture.
Fix: If you want to be healthy and avoid developing a bad habit that could lead to long-term health problems, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle (or as close as possible) while sitting. This will help reduce the pressure on your joints while still allowing you to enjoy feeling comfortable during those long meetings or conference calls!
Holding a baby or bag on the same side all the time
It's a common mistake to carry a bag on one side, especially for moms carrying around baby gear. This can lead to muscle imbalance and strain in your upper body.
Fix: Just like switching your weight on each leg from time to time, try switching the bag from one shoulder to another every so often, or better yet, using both hands! If you absolutely have to use one hand, try using your stronger arm more often than not—this will help you stay balanced and avoid overworking any particular part of your body.
Leaning on one elbow
This is a common posture mistake, mainly because we're so used to doing it. While, in actuality, it does allow us to rest our arms for a moment, it puts immense strain on the muscles in our neck and shoulders, causing tension, headaches, and other issues.
Fix: Sit up straight with your back against the chair or couch cushions if you're relaxing on one of those (or even better, lie down). If you find yourself leaning forward while working at a desk or table, use weights on either side of your hips/knees to keep them from tipping forward.
Extra info (optional): If possible, go outside for some fresh air; simply standing up can help relieve some tension!
When you bend your head forward and down to read or type on your cell phone or laptop, the pressure rises from 27 pounds at a 15-degree angle to 60 pounds at 60 degrees.
Text neck is a posture problem where you look down at your phone or computer for long periods. The problem is that you're looking down, which causes your neck to bend forward and puts stress on the cervical spine. This can cause neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and even back pain.
Fix: Bring your phone to eye level. If it makes your arms tired, then that's one indication that you should give yourself (especially your eyes) a break. If you're mostly on your laptop, it's best to use a laptop stand to elevate the screen and keep it at eye level.
Cradling your phone
Holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder places strain on the muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders. The neck and shoulders are not designed to hold this position.
Fix: Try to get into the habit of holding the phone in your hand or using a hands-free device.
Standing with a flat back
This posture is frequently caused by muscle imbalances, which push you to adopt it. Long durations of sitting might also contribute to a flat back.
Fix: Flat back syndrome causes tight hamstrings, weakening of the hip muscles, and weakening of the abdominal muscles. Doctors recommend exercising the core (abdominal muscles) and the hip muscles and stretching the hamstrings to correct these imbalances. Some exercises that may help are the serpent pose, the bird-dog, and foam rolling.
Disclaimer: Consult a chiropractor if your pain worsens and no amount of exercise or stretching helps. They would be familiar with all of the conservative treatments, including massage therapy, for relaxing tight muscles and increasing blood flow.
Just like a computer, your body is a machine. And like any machine, it needs to be maintained and cared for. So, take a few minutes each day to stretch out your muscles. Do some yoga poses or other exercises that target the muscles that support correct sitting and standing positions. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if you're not sure which exercises will help improve your posture.
You could also avoid sitting in the same position for long periods by taking breaks every hour or two if possible. You could also invest in standing desks. There are many types of standing desks in the market with different features that could work with your lifestyle.
If you are looking for an ergonomically designed desk to help combat these 10 common postural mistakes and support your working style, you should definitely check out our Harmoni desk stand.