Strategies for Better Posture
As we head further towards winter, and many workers have returned to their desks after a summer well spent, it can be easy to forget about things like proper posture and end up with a sore neck and back. Spending time at a desk can be necessary for work, but it doesn’t have to lead to pain and stiffness as long as you follow a few tips and take some time to add in a bit of movement to your day. The following strategies can help you prevent neck and back problems before they start.
Make it a habit to take regular breaks from sitting
Our bodies have a difficult time staying still, especially when sitting for long periods of time. It’s best to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes, or at the very least every hour. If you have the opportunity to switch between sitting and standing while continuing to work by utilizing a sit-stand desk, that’s a great option. Taking breaks from sitting can also involve standing and doing a quick stretch for a minute or two, or going for a water break. To remind yourself to take breaks from sitting, set a timer or put a sticky note on your workstation where you’ll see it.
Get an ergonomic workstation set up
At home, many of us may be guilty of sitting on the couch with a laptop, but for the long-term health of your neck and back, it is best to look into an ergonomic setup for your workstation. At your work, you may have the resources available to have a professional look at your ergonomic setup, but you can also check on some points yourself. To best set up your workstation, make sure you have a good chair that allows you to sit with feet flat on the floor, and knees bent at an 80-90 degree angle. Your monitor should be placed 18-24” from your eyes and the top of the monitor, or the top third should be at eye level. If you’re using a laptop, consider using a stand to place the screen at a higher level and obtain an external keyboard for proper wrist and arm positioning.
Stretch and strengthen your neck, back, and shoulders
While it isn’t necessary to do an entire neck exercise program, there are some great stretches that can be used to prevent and maintain neck health. Start with a pec stretch by putting your hands behind your head. Without pulling your head forward, try to squeeze your elbows back until you feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders. For your neck, add in some movement from side to side and try to look over your shoulders. Hold at points that feel tight. Lastly, add strengthening to maintain this range by trying a chin tuck: Think of a string pulling you up from the top of your head. With that in mind, tuck your chin in slightly, but don’t go too far. Hold for five seconds, then relax and repeat. You may feel this as a stretch in the back of the neck, or feel the muscles working at the front of the neck. By strengthening these, you help prevent a ‘head forward’ posture. An easy way to incorporate these stretches is by doing them during your work breaks.
By following these strategies, you can help to prevent neck and back pain from sitting. If you find that your neck or back stiffness and pain are sticking around and bothering you for more than a few days, then see a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or chiropractor at CURAVITA Health Group for an in-depth assessment, as well as more exercises and ways to treat your specific condition. You can also read more posture tips here.