Millions of job roles in the UK require people to work at a computer sat at a desk for multiple hours each day. So, let’s take a little time to look at the impact of that activity and how we can all make positive changes to improve health, mood and even productivity.
Posture isn’t just about standing up straight. Failing to prioritise good posture can lead to health concerns like back pain, joint degeneration and spinal degeneration. Some studies have even linked poor posture to a lower mood and reduced energy levels – both of which are detrimental in the workplace.
Sadly, it’s natural for your posture to suffer when you work at a desk, day in and day out. However, you aren’t powerless. There are changes you can make to your work habits to ensure that you are protecting your spine and maintaining good posture. This can help you support your health overall, and ultimately make you feel more ready for the next task on your to-do list.
With that in mind, here are five simple things you can do every day to improve your posture and support your spinal health, from stretching and sitting up straight to setting up your desk correctly.
Stretch during the day
Back pain is one of the most common health complaints among people who work at a desk, and a big part of the problem is that we simply don’t move enough. This can cause our muscles and joints to become lazy or overly tense. In the lower back, muscles spend much of the day bunched together rather than stretched out, reducing range of motion.
A few simple desk stretches throughout the day can make all the difference here. Try stretching your arms above your head until you feel a gentle pull on your spine, tilting from side to side. You could also push your chair back and stretch out first one leg and then the other, pointing your toes out and upward in order to release tension in your hamstrings.
Think of your body in terms of lines
Bad posture comes naturally when you sit in the same spot for hours on end, which is why we should all be a bit more deliberate about the way we sit at work. Think of your body in terms of clean lines when sitting. There should be a line from your ears to your shoulders and down to your hips that indicates you’re sitting up straight. Every time you notice that these lines are out of sync, make the effort to adjust them.
Try not to cross your legs
Improving your spinal health at work also involves distributing your weight more evenly, so that no one part of the body is experiencing too much pressure. Keep your feet on the floor so that your lower back isn’t doing all the support work.
Set up your desk properly
Start as you mean to go on by making sure your workstation is set up to promote a healthy spine. Not only does this mean investing in a supportive and comfortable chair, but it also requires a monitor or screen that falls at eye level so you aren’t constantly hunched over. Position your chair at the right height so your wrists aren’t constantly digging into your desk too.
And perhaps most important of all, don’t keep yourself chained to the desk all day. Taking regular breaks to get up and move, even if it’s just a walk to the bathroom, can help support your mobility in the long term. Use your lunch break to enjoy a change of scenery with a gentle walk. Not only will this benefit your spinal health, but you’ll probably find that your concentration improves too.
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