(Est Read Time: 4-Minutes)
For many, posture is a loaded word. It brings back flashbacks of our mothers or our teachers scolding us for slouching. Posture is often described as being either “good” or “bad,” which can feel like a judgment and make us want to ignore the feedback even more rather than actually changing our body position.
So let’s start fresh. First of all, what exactly is posture and why does “bad posture” really matter? Posture is defined as
“The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.”
This traditional definition is misleading. Why? Because it assumes that our posture is unchanging and constant. In reality, our bodies were made to move and our posture is something we should be regularly changing whether we are sitting, moving, working, exercising, conversing, thinking, and so-on.
In reality “bad posture” is more about lack of variability in body position rather than just poor body position. To be more specific, there are 3 major issues that need to be addressed:
- Lack of overall movement throughout the day. Incorporating movement throughout your day is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Movement is good for your joints- it gets your blood circulating and releases hormones in your body that make you feel good. Furthermore, incorporating regular physical activity into your day has incredible overall health benefits. Just listen to neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki’s TED talk about the brain-changing benefits of exercise.
- Lack of variability of movement. Some work environments involve sitting or standing for extended periods in one position with a lack of variability of movements. Examples include sitting at a desk, driving, standing at an assembly line and so on.
- High rate of repetition of the same task. Work environments where a high repetition of the same movements is required to complete a certain task can put a lot of strain on muscles and joints.
So how do we start addressing these three roots of stiffness and pain? In order to really address this updated definition of “bad posture,” we need to take a new approach to posture. This is why at Vimocity we like the term “Active Posture,” as it combines movement and action with the way in which we carry our body and it helps us think about activities to incorporate movement into our day. Sure there are going to be times when you are working at a desk for extended periods of time. However, there are easy ways that you can incorporate movement into your day and maintain an “active posture” instead of spending hours hunched forward looking at a screen.
A New Approach to Posture: Active Posture. But what is “Active Posture?” If you Google the phrase “Active Posture,” the search will literally come up with 74.6 million results. Most of these relate to devices or tools designed to assist with sitting up straight.
While these tools and braces can be helpful, they are very passive and focus more on managing symptoms (i.e. neck pain, upper back pain, stiffness, headaches) rather than addressing the underlying causes of the symptoms. It is easy to talk about posture or the fact we need to move more throughout the day but how do we do that practically??
We’ve got you covered with solutions that are easy to fit into your day to help you relieve discomfort that stems from “bad posture.”
5 Ways to Incorporate “Active Posture” Into Your Day:
- Sit and Stand at Your Desk: Too much of anything probably isn’t the best for you. Avoid just standing or just sitting. Rather, try to work in different positions throughout the day. I most often recommend sitting for ½ of the day in a traditional desk chair, an exercise ball or on a perching stool. Then stand for the other ½ of the day. Although, emerging research points to spending up to ¾ of the work day standing. Make sure that your desk height in either of these positions allows your elbows to be slightly higher than your wrists and the center of the computer screen to be in line with the tip of your nose.
- Take a Walk! Taking the few extra steps to take the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to get lunch or eating lunch outside. If possible, try having walking meetings or use a headset and move/walk when on a conference call.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Our recent hydration article focused on how outside temperatures affect hydration levels. However, drinking plenty of liquids during a normal workday is also important, as it ensures your muscle, joints, organs and lymphatic system have plenty of fluid. Plus, this gets you up frequently to go to the restroom….all part of the active posture!
- Take a Microbreak: A microbreak is a way to disrupt or change the position you have been sitting or standing in. No need to spend time doing all of these at once. Try to pick one or two of these activities, and intersperse them throughout your day.
- Don’t Go It Alone: Teamwork makes the dream work so get your team members involved! At Vimocity, we stop for 5 minutes twice per day to incorporate movement prep into the workday with co-workers. We even set a reminder to have Alexa™ remind us to get up and move, this holds us accountable.
There is no “perfect posture.” However, trying to keep your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders in line with your hips, and your hips in line with your ankles when standing is probably a good place to start…the next step, start to move…then, just change it up and don’t sit still. Movement is good for your joints, it gets your blood circulating and releases hormones in your body that make you feel good. Move it, right!
Looking for more tips to keep your team feeling their best?
Disclaimer: Vimocity does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
If you experience any pain with any movements immediately stop and consult a qualified healthcare provider.