Picture this scenario: you are slumped over your office desk staring closely at your computer screen, sitting for hours while your head and neck are craned forward to get a better visual of the stationary monitor in front of you. By mid-afternoon, you notice how stiff your neck, shoulders and back feel; you have a headache and your eyes feel strained. You feel fatigued and have hit a productivity slump. You finally get up from your chair and notice how tight your legs feel. In fact, you realize you haven’t moved much since 9 AM and your body is sore. This is just another day at the office for most people. Yet it’s shocking how blind we are to the parallels between our daily lack of movement, our poor posture and the medical problems we develop as a result. In today’s tech-advanced world, we can easily fall prey to a more sedentary existence, especially on the job. But you can adapt and use technology to your advantage to get moving and create body alignment that will foster better productivity while you work.
Let’s begin by talking about the major role posture plays in your daily functioning and well-being.
- Poor posture impairs the body in several ways.
- When you are hunched over, your shoulders and neck gravitate forward, hindering your ability to breathe as easily or as deeply. You put unnecessary pressure on your internal organs, causing your diaphragm to function improperly.
- You lose full range of motion in your neck, making the act of turning your head side to side or raising your arms more difficult. Your spine will ultimately suffer the most strain from this misalignment, ultimately causing neck and back pain.
This is where the domino effect comes into play. “Craning your head forward all day long — a pose some experts refer to as ‘tech neck’ because of its association with smartphone and computer use — can create chronic tension in the muscles of the neck and back, which can lead to headaches,” says Wendy Katzman, a professor of physical therapy at the University of California, San Francisco. “Poor posture can also cause nerve problems and numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.”
Poor posture has even been linked to low energy levels and depression. A 2012 study from San Francisco State University revealed that the experience of being slouched caused the test participants to feel sad, lonely, isolated, sleepy, accompanied by a feeling of wanting to just sit down, or zombie-like. Such feelings do not bode well for the workplace environment, especially if you plan on high daily output. Therefore, mind-body and body-mind connection deserves our attention.
So how can you correct your posture and feel better at work? Here are some clever tips to get you started.
Incorporate Ergonomics Into Your Workspace
A comfortable workspace makes all the difference. Defined as the science of fitting a workplace to the user’s needs, ergonomics can prevent most workplace injuries by adjusting tools to the user and putting an emphasis on proper posture to reduce the impact of repetitive movements. Our Fitspot CEO and Co-Founder, Jonathan Cohn, who is passionate about this subject and lives by example, provides a detailed blog post on how to implement the proper ergonomic configuration into your space. This includes the careful placement and adjustment of your desk, chair, monitor and keyboard for optimal comfort and functioning. Here is a detailed infographic we created to help you visualize the proper setup he describes.
Some points to highlight:
- Choose an adjustable chair that supports your natural spinal curves.
- Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Adjust armrests so your arms gently rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep high usage objects such as your telephone, stapler or printed materials, close to your body to minimize reaching.
- Place your mouse within easy reach and on the same surface as your keyboard.
- While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows.
- If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.
- Under your desk, make sure there’s clearance for your knees, thighs and feet. If the desk is too low and can’t be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under the desk legs. If the desk is too high and can’t be adjusted, raise your chair. Use a footrest to support your feet as needed.
- Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches for more comfortable viewing.
One of Fitspot’s on-site offerings includes ergonomic assessments and workshops to help guide you in this process and guarantee a seamless transition.
Fitspot also brings cutting-edge recovery technology, such as TheraGun and Hypervolt, on-site for you to try! These devices are self massagers that use percussion to relieve pain and tension.
Get Up From Your Desk And Move!
Sometimes the best medicine is just good old natural movement. What are some ways you can incorporate movement into your daily routine?
- Try standing up from your desk and stretching periodically throughout the day.
- Practice small exercises like knee-extensions.
- Instead of sending intra-office emails, walk over to talk to your colleague and deliver the information in person.
- Resist using the elevator and take the stairs instead.
- Take short breaks for a walk during the day. If it’s nice out, take a short walk outside.
- Stand up during meetings or practice walking meetings instead, taking notes on the go, if needed.
- Walk to a farther bathroom.
- Walk to a further spot for lunch.
And of course, take advantage of wellness services offered by Fitspot. From fitness classes to assisted stretching and chair massages, it’s a refreshing recharge to shake up your workday.
Incorporating interspersed short movements and exercises throughout the workday can boost employee energy, engagement and efficiency, says sports scientist Jack Groppel. He recommends that workers should take a break every 30 to 40 minutes to get up from their desks and move. “Research shows that the more you move, the more oxygen and blood flow to the brain, and the better you solve problems,” says Groppel. By integrating movement throughout your day, you will successfully stimulate your muscles and nerve receptors, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and recharge your cognitive functioning and energy levels. Higher productivity is sure to follow.