Summer is winding down and soon, we will be relegated inside as we say ‘goodbye’ to our outdoor activities, vacations, and spaces while returning to the routines of school and work amid cooling temperatures. As students head back to school, workers start the push back into the office to replenish their leave banks, and cars become the warmer choice for transportation, we’ll need to ensure we reintegrate good habits with our bodies as we reacclimate to our indoor routines that require more sitting. Adopting a good seated posture will help to maintain a healthy body that is pain-free and flexible.
What is Good Seated Posture?
The mechanics of good seated posture are relatively easy to learn and practice. They include:
- Ensuring your neck is in the chin tuck position. Sliding your head back over your neck without tilting or bending it eliminates the tension on neck muscles and redistributes the weight of the head.
- Rolling your shoulders back and dropped. This reduces the tension in your upper trapezius and pectoral muscles which can become fatigued and painful.
- Extended your mid-back by not hunching in the thoracic spine (mid-back)
- Keeping your core tight. Tension through your core will reduce hyperflexion (slouching) in the lumbar spine (lower back).
Your body wants to be comfortable so don’t over-stress the posture. Consistency is key in creating the habit and training those muscles to adjust to the new way of sitting.
In addition to knowing how to sit properly, there are physical and mental factors that can influence posture for good or for bad. Here are some ways to prepare your environment and body for good seated posture.
- Desk and screen height
- A desk that is too high will cause you to extend your neck backwards when you look at your monitor. A desk that is too low will often lead to raising your shoulders to reach the keyboard and mouse. Both factors can lead to frequent back and neck pain among other issues. Simple adjustments like ensuring the top of your monitor is at or slightly below eye level, choosing a good chair with lumbar support, keeping your head and neck in line with your torso, and keeping your forearms parallel to the ground while typing/scrolling are great ways to start.
- Eye sight
- If you notice that your monitor is closer than 20 inches from your face or more than 40 inches away (depending on the size of the screen), have your vision checked. The same goes for any materials that you’re viewing whether paper or digital. Position things straight in front of you and be mindful of glare as these things could have you shifting positions to get a better look.
- Whether you’re checking your phone, reading your favorite paperback, or scrolling on your laptop, make sure that you’re aware of how you’re sitting and correct any bad habits early and often.
- Stress level
- Your level of stress can impact any area of your life including your posture. With more stress comes tighter muscles which can often lead to muscle fatigue, pain, and worse posture. Finding ways to alleviate some of the stresses in your life can actually take a load off your shoulders.
- Fatigue level
- Being well rested for school/work/travel is important to being able to catch any ill-postured
- Mental stimulation
- If you’re not mentally in to it, you’ll start to slouch. When you’re giving attention to projects or content that are challenging or engaging, your mind and body naturally stay awake and are more aware of efficiencies such as posture.
If any part of posture improvements causes you pain, it’s time to get help. In addition to helping with any diagnoses, chiropractic care can improve joint mobility and relieve muscle tension. You can also release tension through massage or work to strengthen muscles by increasing physical activity.
As the season transitions and we begin to take our seats in classrooms and offices, adopting a good seating posture can help keep your back free of pain and full of mobility.