Sitting down at your desk all day can be a pain in the back, literally! Back pain, neck stiffness and shoulder pain are extremely common among workers, especially when they spend their entire day sitting at their desk and staring at a screen. Most of the elements in the office can lead to the back and neck to suffer because they are not in the right position, which can lead to headaches, body pain and stress which can worsen to other types of stress. If you work in an office and want to improve your posture to avoid pain and increase productivity, you will want to follow the tips below.
1. Raise your computer screen so it is at the same level of your eyes.
Looking down at your computer, or looking up in some cases,can be one of the reason why you suffer from neck stiffness and back pain. When you look down at your computer, you put an excessive amount of stress on your neck. A study by Surgical Technology International explained that your head weighs about 10 pounds when sitting straight, but by just leaning your head 15 degrees forward, it feels like it weighs 27 pounds, which is why your neck and shoulder hurts when you lean your head.To avoid this, place your monitor perpendicular to your eyes, and if you happen to have more than one screen, make sure both are at the same level. To make things even better, maintain an arm length between the monitor and you, this way you won’t lean forward when working.
Your arms should be resting on the armrests of your chair forming a 90 degree angle. If you stretch your arms, you will cause your back muscles to lose strength and in return, cause pain. To avoid this, keep your keyboard and mouse close to you, as well as the things that you use often throughout the day so they are easy to reach. There are also wrist rests to help you alleviate pain while you are writing most of the day.
Did you know that crossing your legs while you sit is causing you pain? This popular position actually causes a lot of stress to your leg muscles and lower back, which is one of the many reasons why your lower back may hurt so much. When you sit down, make sure that both of your feet comfortably touching the ground, and that your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Adjust your chair so your legs are comfortable, or invest in a small bench so your feet can rest. Moreover, make sure to stretch your legs now and then while you are on your desk, and walk around your office to avoid stiffness.
4. Use a headset when talking on the phone.
We are all guilty of multitasking while working, and talking on the phone at the same time is our favorite way to save time, or so we believe. But, did you know thatplacing your phone between your ear and your neck creates tension on the muscles? To avoid this, get a headset so you can talk on the phone and continue working without adding stress and tension to your neck and shoulders.
5. Standing desk.
Standing desks have become extremely popular in offices because they help you maintain a good posture while working. While standing the whole day might seem impossible and tiring, using a standing desk for a few hours a day as opposed to staying seated all day, will help your posture a lot. Human beings are made for movement and not to sit around all day, and a standing desk will help you with this.
There are many ways to improve your posture in the office, and the benefits will be rewarding. From relieving back and neck pain to improving your productivity and confidence. So what are you waiting for? Improve your posture today with the help of UpRight.
Everyone is talking about good posture. Recently, AOL News shared a few reasons why good posture is important, including leading to a better sex life. Then, Fast Company shared how good posture is the key to boosting your productivity, and Yahoo talked about how good posture and strong abs go hand-in-hand. It’s as if the world has suddenly stumbled upon one of the secrets to health and happiness and they can’t help sharing their good news.
And, really, it’s no wonder that good posture is going viral. There are just so many benefits of good posture and so many reasons why today’s society needs good posture more than ever. As UNILAD said in their viral pick up of the UPRIGHT Posture Trainer, “We all need this!”
Why Is Good Posture a Buzzword?
So, why is everyone talking about good posture? It’s not like we’ve just started dealing with back pain or slouching. But while that’s true, it’s not the whole truth. Over the last few decades, our lives have changed dramatically.
Let’s take a look at a recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which looked at how bad sitting is for your health. Researchers found that for every hour of seated TV watching a person enjoys, they cut about 22 minutes from their life span. Now, the TV wasn’t even around 100 years ago, and it’s also not like people sit only in front of the TV. In fact, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting, and this is a major problem.
You might be wondering what sitting has to do with good posture, and the answer is everything. Sitting is what harms your posture the most, and posture-related problems are increasing in prevalence around the world. When you sit, you tend to slouch over your desk or slump over the arm of the couch, and this is where the biggest problem lies because bad posture is bad for you in so many ways.
Bad posture causes fatigue, pain, negative self-image, additional stress, weak muscles, poor concentration, and so much more. And since society is all about getting healthy, good posture has become synonymous with the hope for a better and longer life.
How UPRIGHT Encourages Good Posture
Don’t worry! There is good news. Unlike many of the viral health crazes going around, learning to sit and stand with good posture is actually quite simple. All it takes is a little training with UPRIGHT.
UPRIGHT is a smart device that works with you to correct your posture, naturally. How does it work?
First, stop stressing about remembering your posture every second of every day. You’re a busy person. You don’t have the time to think about your posture on top of everything else. Let the stress go and leave it to UPRIGHT.
Second, stick our simple, easy to use and remove, patch to the middle of your lower back (right where you tend to feel the most back pain).
Third, attach UPRIGHT to the patch and then wear your clothes normally. The trainer is so small and unobtrusive that no one will know it’s there.
Finally, live your life normally and let UPRIGHT do all the posture training work. It’s simple, throughout the day as you walk and sit, UPRIGHT will vibrate whenever you start to slouch. The vibration acts as your reminder to straighten your spine, roll back your shoulders, and sit and stand up straight.
It’s that easy, and you don’t even need to wear UPRIGHT all day. In only 15 minutes a day, UPRIGHT can train you to have good posture. It works by helping you to build muscle memory and core strength, so that good posture becomes as commonplace as breathing.
Even better, when you train with UPRIGHT, you don’t have to guess at your progress. Your UPRIGHT device is connected to your phone through a simple app. The app lets you set daily goals, provides tips, techniques, and video tutorials, and lets you track your posture statistics and analytics.
Physiotherapists and Chiropractors recommend using UPRIGHT to make good posture a reality in your life because it should be more than just a buzzword. Good posture should be a vital part of your healthy lifestyle.
Are you slumping in your chair as you read this? We caught you. There’s no reason to deny it. Millions of Americans spend five days a week in an office and the majority of that time slouched over their keyboard. Let’s be honest. We know that good posture is important, but it’s just easier to sit in a relaxed position. Just like it’s far easier to eat junk food than to eat vegetables.
But the truth is that good posture is more than just an idea of something “healthy” that you should do. It actually affects your health and happiness far more than you know. Sitting up straight, holding your shoulders back when you stand, and keeping your core tight can positively influence your mind, body, and even other people’s opinions about you.
5 Benefits of Good Posture
Between the ages of two to five, you most likely had natural, healthy, upright, and aligned posture. You walked smoothly without stiffness and with natural balance. The amazing thing is that, at that age, you didn’t even have to try to have good posture; it just came naturally. Then, one day, you went to school, and everything changed. You learned to slump and slouch at your desk, and the rest is history.
Now, as an adult, if you want the benefits of good posture you have to work for it. It takes conscious thought and effort to sit, walk, and lie down the way nature intended. The question is, “Is it worth the effort?” We think so.
Body language is very real. How you stand, sit, and walk has long-reaching implications on your own mood and happiness as well as how other people relate to you. In fact, the way you move your body affects your thoughts in a big way. A study by Ohio State University found that opinions are closely linked to our physical behavior. For example, simply nodding or shaking or head in agreement or disagreement can change your opinion. Even more amazing, hugging yourself can reduce physical pain.
When you sit up straight, you’re more likely to remember positive memories.
If you walk upright or skip during breaks, you’ll increase your energy levels.
If you practice good posture, you’re more likely to believe positive traits about yourself and accept confidence and reject depression.
According to an article published in the Journal of Biofeedback, your brain and body have a symbiotic relationship. Practicing good posture, movement, and exercise can increase your energy and happiness. The reality is that just as your body has physical responses to emotions—such as fleeing when you’re frightened—the reverse is true. If you stand with your shoulders back and your spine straight, you send a message to your brain that you feel powerful. That, in turn, starts neural impulses for power, confidence, and energy. In fact, it only takes a little stretching and adjustment to your posture to give you a stamina boost, according to Scientific American.
A recent study published in Health Psychology found that sitting up straight can help you cut out negative emotions. In the experiment, 74 participants were randomly assigned to slump or sit upright and then given a reading assignment. Upright participants reported high self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear compared to their counterparts.
More than that, the benefits of good posture can affect how stressed out you feel. Sitting up or standing with good posture while you work can help you build resilience to deadlines and to-do lists. The reality is that when you suffer from depression you automatically collapse your body, dropping your head forward, and rounding your shoulders. By practicing good posture and placing your body in a poised upright and balanced position, you invoke feelings of happiness and ease.
As discussed earlier, good posture can affect how you think. In fact, one of the ways we shape our thoughts is through our physical movements. It’s called “embodied cognition” and it means that your brain looks to your face and body to understand how you feel. So, how does that relate to productivity? Well, productivity is the act of telling your brain that I’m in charge and I feel good to go. One of the benefits of good posture is the ability to put you in a productive state of mind. And it’s not all mental.
Dana Carney, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Entrepreneur Magazine that posture and testosterone are interconnected and have a big affect on your productivity. When you sit or stand in a ‘power pose’ your body increases your levels of testosterone, which gives your brain the confidence it needs to approach a task and handle it.
A lot of muscle tension and stiffness is a direct result of bad posture. When you sit or stand in a slouched position, it puts all your muscles, bones, and ligaments out of alignment and balance. This causes some muscles to tighten to compensate for others, and it only takes a little bit of time for this to put stress on your body and cause pain. Worse yet, according to the International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation, the longer you sit and stand with bad posture, the further your discomfort grows, and recovery can be slow.
One of the benefits of good posture is its ability to reduce your back and neck pain by relieving pressure on muscles, joints, and tendons that have long been under too much stress. Good posture can even help relieve your pain by increasing your circulation and oxygen intake by about 30%. That’s because good posture opens your chest cavity, allowing more oxygen to enter your body and brain.
As a child, you probably heard some form of those commands once or a thousand times. At the time, they were just words adults liked to say. Now, they hold a much deeper meaning. Bad posture doesn’t just make you look sad and pathetic; it affects your health.
Bad posture is an epidemic in the U.S. affecting millions of individuals. And it’s not a simple or unimportant matter. It causes more mental and physical complications than most people know and can have disastrous effects on your long-term health.
5 Negative Effects of Bad Posture
Adversely Changes Your Spine
Bad posture changes the alignment of your spine, putting pressure on areas that don’t need it. In your natural, healthy state, your spine has a certain curve to its shape. But after you spend years slumping at your desk and standing with bad posture, the natural curve of your spine is lost. In fact, the excessive strain can become so bad that it decreases the integrity of your spinal column causing your discs to weaken and compress and your vertebrae to erode. These changes not only cause long-term pain and discomfort, but the new alignment can even make you shorter and stop your ability to absorb shock and maintain proper balance.
It Worsens Depression and Stress
As stated earlier, bad posture doesn’t just make you look sad it actually makes you feel sad. A study at San Francisco State University discovered that students who slouched while they walked had increased feelings of depression and stress compared to those who skipped. A similar study at Harvard revealed that the way you carry yourself, with good or bad posture, can affect how you feel. For example, people with good posture saw a rise in testosterone, giving them a sense of power and control, and a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
Bad posture doesn’t just affect your spine; it also affects your innards. Sitting and standing slumped over constricts your intestines, which can make digestion uncomfortable and contribute to issues such as acid reflux and hernias. Even more surprising, bad posture can impact your metabolism causing you to gain weight and to develop a belly pouch and larger bottom.
When your body isn’t in alignment, it isn’t happy, and the way your body tells you its unhappiness is through pain. In fact, bad posture can lead to chronic back pain and disc degeneration. The reason why is because of increased strain on your back muscles, bones, and other parts of your body. Bad posture can even cause pain in other parts of your body including your hips, shoulders, and neck, leading to tension headaches.
Cardiovascular and Lung Issues
Just as slouching hurts your digestive tract, it also hurts your lungs and heart. An Australian study on bad posture found that individuals who sat all day slumped over their desks had a shorter life expectancy and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Part of that increased risk could be because bad posture also restricts blood and oxygen flow, making it more difficult to breathe, speak, and engage in physical exercise.
5 Tips to Improve Your Posture
Strengthen Your Back Muscles
If you want to get rid of your bad posture, first, you need to make it easier to stand and sit up straight. There are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your back muscles. They include squats with weights, lunges, and shoulder rolls. Doing these exercises a few times a week can make it easier to keep the correct posture.
Train Yourself in Good Posture
For most individuals, good posture doesn’t come naturally. That’s why you need to train yourself to sit and stand appropriately. The UPRIGHT Posture Trainer is simple to use and works in just 15 minutes a day. It works by gently reminding you to correct your bad posture and allowing you to track your progress over time.
Stand Up Often
It’s easier to have good posture when you’re standing. Take regular breaks throughout the day to stand up and walk around your office.
Fix Your Chairs
Since you most often have bad posture when you sit, make it easier on your body to correct the problem by investing in the right chairs. For your office, invest in an ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse. In your car, adjust your seat so your headrest is in the middle of your head and so your head is not more than 4 inches away from the seat.
When you live your life with bad posture, not only do you shorten your spine, you shorten your muscles. Stretching can help lengthen your muscles back to their natural state while also helping you to open up your body, so your organs get the oxygen they need.
It might seem like a simple question, but living your life with good posture is anything but simple. The reality is that most businessmen and women spend 8-12 hours a day sitting slouched over at their desks, which leads to back pain, decreased productivity, poor health, and missed work.
The problem is that when you spend the majority of each day sitting poorly, it becomes an ingrained habit that feels impossible to break. Thankfully, it’s not impossible. All it takes is UPRIGHT and a little bit of training.
Good Posture Case Studies
To discover if good posture at work is possible and to see what difference it can make in regards to worker happiness and wellness, SAP Software Solutions and Siemens decided to team up with UPRIGHT for a Corporate Wellness Initiative. The initiative was simple; they wanted to see if they could help people develop a good posture habit just by making a few changes during their regular work day.
Both SAP and Siemens were chosen for their distinct workforces. SAP, a multinational software development corporation, employs thousands of software developers. While Siemens, a multinational electronics and electric engineering company, employs thousands of electrical engineers.
The problem with both developers and engineers is that they’re glued to their computers day in and day out ultimately resulting in bad posture habits. And few, if any, remember to sit with good posture. To see if things could change for the better, an UPRIGHT trainer was given to 13 employees at SAP and 9 at Siemens along with a custom training plans.
The training plans varied between 15-30 days, depending on the profile of each worker. However, they all started out with just five minutes a day using UPRIGHT and escalated up to training an hour a day. As for the employees, they didn’t have to disrupt their workdays at all. All they had to do was use UPRIGHT while sitting at their desk, eating lunch, or attending a meeting. Then, throughout the program, the employees had to fill out surveys about their bad or good posture and how they felt.
The results speak for themselves!
SAP Software Solutions & Good Posture Results
Though the program didn’t ask the employees to commit much of their time or energy, they got great results. 25% of all employees said that they experienced back pain relief. Even more impressive, 60% said they felt more productive while at work. And 100% said they felt encouraged to keep using UPRIGHT after the training program was completed.
In the end, every participant improved their good posture by 70%. And here’s what that looks like:
50% felt that their core muscles became stronger.
60% felt that it was easier to sit up straight.
40% started noticing other people’s posture (good or bad).
Ariel T., one of the participants, had this to say, “Halfway through my training program I became more aware of my posture, not only while sitting but also while standing, especially with an audience next to me. Standing up straight gave me a real confidence boost and, in this way, I think UPRIGHT achieved its goal. UPRIGHT became my real office companion.”
Siemens Good Posture Results
After just a few weeks of good posture training, Siemens’ engineers discovered improved posture is definitely possible. In fact, 100% of participants stated that their posture was noticeably different by the end of the program. Beyond that, 33% of the engineers said that they felt less back pain, and 55% felt more productive and awake at work thanks to UPRIGHT.
And the full picture looks even brighter!
88% of participants felt more aware of their own posture and the posture of those around them.
44% of engineers felt more confident when they had good posture, post UPRIGHT training.
66% said that they would definitely recommend UPRIGHT to their friends, family, and coworkers.
Engineer, Alex, said, “I definitely feel the change in my posture from using UPRIGHT. There is always room for improvement, but way to go! I am looking forward to buying the product!” And fellow participant Ram had this to say, “The most important thing I think is that I achieved my goal by using UPRIGHT. It raised my awareness of my posture. Thank you for the opportunity in this pilot!”
Conclusion: Can You Train Your Body To Have Good Posture?
So, can you change your bad posture for the better? The answer is clearly a resounding yes. In both case studies, it only took a few weeks for participants to increase their posture awareness, decrease their back pain, and boost their confidence.
If you’re ready to see how UPRIGHT can work for you or your office and would also like to have good posture, buy one today!
How often do you remember to sit and stand with good posture? We’re betting that it’s not often. When you were a kid, you probably relied on the adults in your life to snap out a command to “sit up straight” whenever you started to slouch, but, as adults, that same reminder isn’t as easy to come by. And that’s a shame.
Good posture isn’t just an abstract concept that only concerns children. It’s absolutely vital to your health.
What Is Good Posture?
So, what exactly is good posture? The human body is naturally asymmetrical in the placement of organs and systems and, according to Sanford Health, posture is the way your muscles and skeleton hold your body erect. As for good posture, it’s the effort of placing your body in a “neutral” position so that your pelvis, trunk, and head are in their optimal position to work effectively and efficiently.
7 Benefits of Good Posture & Easy Practice Techniques
Besides helping you function optimally, good posture has innumerable benefits.
A study by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation revealed that bad posture can affect your breathing and lung capacity. The reason why is because of your frontal muscles and tendons. When you regularly slouch, these muscles become shortened, which decreases your body’s ability to take deep breaths. In fact, slumping in your seat or standing with rounded shoulders greatly decreases your ability to take in oxygen. By practicing good posture, you can improve your breathing ability by as much as 30%.
Back Pain Relief
Back pain is a devastating problem. It’s a $50 billion industry and affects 80% of the population, according to the American Chiropractic Association. So, anything that can provide pack pain relief is an excellent idea. Proper posture helps to keep your bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles properly aligned, which can prevent and relieve your back pain. Plus, over time, good posture can change the anatomical characteristics of your spine, leading to less strain and more open vessels and nerves.
Improved Muscle Health
Another way that proper posture provides pain relief is through strengthening your muscles. Improper posture places strain on already sensitized muscles and soft tissues. By sitting and standing correctly, you’ll strengthen your core, buttock muscles, and back extensions while relieving unnecessary tension. The reality is that good posture distributes the force of gravity evenly throughout your muscles, so no one structure is over-stressed.
Bad posture just looks bad. Slumped shoulders give you the appearance of depression and a lack of confidence. A swayed back can make it look like you’re a few pounds heavier. And a bowed neck makes you look frumpy. Models, movie stars, and famous politicians all maintain good posture because they understand that it portrays power and confidence while also presenting your body to its best advantage. Plus, good posture can add an inch of more to your height.
Decreased Fatigue & Depression
Research conducted by San Francisco State University revealed that “simply choosing to alter body posture to a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels.” The reality is that your posture has measurable affects on your optimism, energy, and even mood. The reason why is because your posture affects your state of mind, automatically. When you’re depressed, your shoulders automatically slump while when you’re relaxed or feeling happy, your posture tends to be upright and open. By changing your posture to reflect the state of mind you want, you can actually make it happen.
Improved Circulation and Digestion
How you look on the outside is a reflection of what’s inside. This is especially true when it comes to your digestive system. Good posture helps to keep your internal organs, particularly those within your abdomen, in their natural position without undue compression. When you slouch, you can interfere with the normal flow and function of your gastrointestinal system. In fact, proper posture can help relieve such issues as acid reflux, constipation, and hernias.
The average human brain has over 100 billion neurons and 1,000 trillion synaptic connections. These neurons and synapses are responsible for your memory concentration, and all information transmission in your brain. And these receptors are especially dependent on oxygen. By improving your posture, you open up your body to better oxygen and blood circulation, meaning that you’ll also improve your ability to concentrate and focus.
Making Good Posture Possible
So, since you don’t have parents or teachers to yell at you about your posture as an adult, what’s the solution to bad posture? The solution is to take out the middleman.
UPRIGHT is a simple product that you can wear for just 15 minutes a day to improve your posture. It works by sending your body gentle vibrations when you start to slump or slouch. This method of training makes fixing your posture an almost subconscious decision, turning good posture into a lifelong habit.
Thirty-one million Americans suffer from back pain, and that means there are millions of pseudo experts. Unfortunately, listening to every “specialist” on the Internet can cause more problems than it solves. The problem is that back pain misconceptions can quickly get out of hand and become accepted beliefs.
To help protect you from the fear mongering and confusion, we’re debunking the five greatest back pain myths: moving makes it worse, exercise should be avoided, scans reveal all, back pain happens without warning, and pain equals damage. Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and that means you need to be armed with the facts if you want to move on with your life.
Myth 1: “Moving will make my back pain far worse!”
Wrong! Movement is not the enemy of back pain. In fact, in many instances, bed rest and a fear of twisting, bending, and moving can actually make your back pain worse. It’s understandable. When movement causes pain, why would you want to move anymore? But lying down can work against you and even slow your healing.
The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that reviewed 134 workers with back pain. The researchers found that those who kept moving recovered in just 58 days compared to the 87 days of recovery it took for sedentary individuals.
Myth 2: “I shouldn’t exercise, and I definitely shouldn’t weight train!”
If bed rest isn’t the best option, neither is exercise avoidance. Yes, you should reduce your normal activities, but that doesn’t mean you should stop hitting the gym. In fact, you should try and stay as active as possible.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should start doing 100lb squats immediately. Instead, you should focus on exercising in a controlled, gradual, and progressive manner. According to the Mayo Clinic, just 15 minutes of exercise a day can help stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles to prevent further pain and promote recovery.
Myth 3: “A scan will reveal all of my back problems!”
In some cases, technology doesn’t hold all the answers. While a back scan can often reveal what’s going on, it’s not always that simple. Back pain is often a complex and multi-factorial issue, meaning that a spinal diagnosis isn’t straightforward.
To uncover what’s causing your back pain and what’s necessary for recovery requires a full clinical diagnostic process. This typically requires three steps:
A review of your medical history. To get to the root of your back pain, your physician should spend time asking you a series of questions about your symptoms, history, activities, positions, treatments, and more.
A physical examination. A competent physician should test for nerve function, muscle strength, pain in certain positions, and more.
Diagnostic testing. Only after a physician has reviewed your medical history and given you a physical examination is a scan appropriate. Everything from an X-ray to CT scans and MRI scans can be appropriate to assess certain conditions.
Myth 4: “My back pain had no warning!”
Yes, it’s true that your back can suddenly “go out,” but it never happens out of the blue. The truth is that your back pain always has a cause whether it’s poor conditioning, weight gain, incorrect posture, or bad lifting mechanics.
The reality for many individuals is that back pain is a result of a cumulative effect from simple movements. Sudden back pain can also be a sign of an underlying degenerative process or neurological issues. There’s always a cause for back pain and seeing a physician is your best chance for appropriate diagnosis and recovery.
Myth 5: “If my back hurts that means that there’s damage to my spine!”
Back pain doesn’t always equal injury. While, in the past, that’s been the established view, recent research has revealed that back pain can, and often is, a holistic issue.
There are many physical, psychological, and even social factors that can lead to back pain. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke anxiety and depression can even influence back pain. The only way to diagnose the cause of your back pain and to determine if your spine suffers from damage is to visit your health care provider.
Now that you know the truth about back pain, the next step is to do something to relieve your back pain and get immediate results. That’s where Upright can help. In just 15 minutes a day, you can train your body to have better posture for decreased back pain and increased productivity.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm
Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265
Annals of Internal Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14734329
American Chiropractic Associations; http://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics
Back pain is so common that unfortunately many of us will experience it in our lifetime. There are a number of elements that can lead to back pain, even a few that you might not even be aware of that are causing your aches and pains. Do you work in an office? If your office is not very ergonomically inclined, even the chair at your desk can be leading to mild back pain throughout your day.
Generally speaking, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise can be an important factor, but some might even be surprised that the most simple preventative fix of all, is actually just practicing good posture. Practicing good posture can make a world of a difference when dealing with back pain, and the first steps towards relief are simply being aware of your own posture when sitting down for long periods of time, like at the office for example. The benefits of good posture are not just preventing and aiding in the relief of back pain, but it also can make you look better too.
When thinking about posture, it might be easy to think that all you need to do is stand up straight, but posture is really all about the way in which you hold your body when sitting down at work, standing for long periods of time, heavy lifting or really any repeated task involving body movement. Luckily, you too can reap the benefits of good posture and reduce painful backaches with some helpful methods to try at home or the office yourself.
One of the most simple exercises to try is referred to as imagery. This takes literally imagining a straight line from the floor to your head, and attempting to recreate that with your back, especially when sitting down. You should be aiming to have your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned during this practice. Stretch your head upwards, increasing the space between your rib-cage and pelvis. Utilizing this easy exercise will quickly allow you to experience some of the benefits of good posture without setting aside too much extra time.
This next exercise can be completed while sitting in a chair. The shoulder blade squeeze helps to stretch out different parts on the back. You will need to first sit up straight in a chair, and rest your hands on your thighs. Next, you will need to keep your shoulders down and your chin level, looking straight ahead. From there you can slowly move your shoulders back, squeezing the shoulder blades together. You will want to hold this for 4-5 seconds each, 3-4 times, with a short relaxation in between each round.
From there, you will want to next stretch the upper body, using another really simple to do exercise. First, you will want to stand facing a corner, with your arms above your head and your hands flat on the walls (one on each). Keep your elbows at shoulder height. Next, place one foot ahead of the other, and then bend your forward knee, and exhale as you lean your body towards the corner. Be sure to keep your back straight and your head and chest upward. You will feel your chest stretching. Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds and release.
A final helpful stretch is the arm across chest stretch. First, you will want to raise your right arm to about shoulder level in front of you. Bend your elbow keeping your forearm parallel to the floor. Hold your right elbow with your left hand, then slowly pull it across your chest, which should give the feeling of a nice stretch in the upper arm and right side of the body. Hold that pose for 20-30 seconds, release, and then repeat on the other side of your body. Try three rounds of this total, and you will soon be on your way to experiencing the benefits of good posture.
These helpful tips will relieve minor back pain, but ultimately investing in ergonomic equipment will help prevent some of the pain before it has the chance to start. Utilizing the Upright Posture Trainer will let you experience first hand the potential benefits of good posture. The trainer is a wearable technology that trains you to improve your posture over time. The way it works, is that it attaches to your back with a soft piece of velcro, and vibrates whenever you slouch. The device only needs to be worn for anywhere between 5 minutes and one hour daily to get the full benefits. This simple to use device has a training program that will have the user feeling the benefits of good posture in no time at all.
Nearly half the adult labor force suffers from some form of chronic pain and 40% of Americans experience head, back or neck pain which negatively impacts their enjoyment of life and ability to work[i]. The estimated cost to US employers from lost working days and reduced productivity for back pain alone is over $7 billion per year and over 70% of these costs come from exacerbation of existing problems.[ii]
Fortunately employers can significantly reduce the costs of treatment, insurance and reduced productivity by empowering their workforce. Through educational programs to build greater awareness and the provision of appropriate tools or training employers can foster cost-saving and life-saving behavioral changes. Employees benefit from being supported to prioritize their physical wellbeing and healthier staff provide huge long term financial benefits and immediate cost savings.
Cause for Concern
Even the mildest pain reduces our ability to concentrate and focus on everyday tasks – severely impacting the ability to perform in the workplace. Living with chronic pain gradually wears down motivation and is correlated with an increased risk of depression, stress, fatigue and reduced self-esteem.[iii]
Repetitive tasks, such as working on an assembly line, and heavy lifting used to be the most common causes of back pain or injury on the workplace. However, the increased prevalence of desk based jobs and our modern sedentary lifestyle is creating an alarming increase in back problems. Lack of exercise, poor posture and long periods sitting still has reduced the spinal health of the nation and over 10% of the population experience lower back pain (double the incidence of the previous decade).[iv]
Inactive and Ineffective
‘Sitting Disease’ is a very modern phenomenon which is increasing at epidemic rates – we spend on average 7.7 hours sitting every single day[v]. The human body was simply not designed to stay so still and the health implications of inactivity are starting to become apparent. Heart disease, diabetes and even premature death have all been linked to a lack of physical activity[vi]. Jobs that require long hours sitting at a desk, or other sedentary position, combined with hours spent in front of the TV are negatively impacting physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Physical activity assists the transport toxins out of the body, supporting the immune system
Movement causes the release of hormones which improve mood and aid longevity
Lack of movement is associated with lethargy and reduced energy – which many use as an excuse to justify inactivity
Sitting still has a negative impact on metabolism increasing the risk of diabetes and contributing to weight gain
Simply standing up burns 30% more calories than sitting down!
While exercise is hugely beneficial health it is only part of the solution – sitting still all day during the week is not outweighed by running a marathon at the weekend. To avoid the potential health risks of inactivity at work employers need to develop long term strategies to support their staff. There are a wide range of options that can be considered to prevent inactivity, increase movement, strengthen muscles and prevent problems.
From a change management perspective employers need to raise awareness of the problems associated with inactivity before they can expect employees to take action. Most people have no idea of the severity and likelihood of back problems and negative health outcomes from simply sitting still. Corporate Wellbeing Campaigns often miss this vital step in implementation – if you develop and nurture an awareness of the problems the desire to change comes from within.
To help staff make meaningful changes employers need to support a variety of workplace adaptions, including:
Standing Desks – these allow employees to stand while using the computer, draw, design or any other activity which requires a desk. This workplace adaption is increasing in popularity, however, is not a new invention and was reportedly used by Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. They take a little time to get used to (for example finding the correct posture and rebuilding the muscles needed to stand upright) but provide a safe and effective way to get the job done without the risks associated with sitting still.
Treadmill desks – a little more extreme these allow people to actively move and walk, or even run, while working. They take a high degree of concentration and definitely some practice and are more suited to hands-free activities like talking on the phone. Research has shown using this style of ‘desk’ for periods during the day improves physical and psychological wellbeing without impacting performance.[vii]
Standing Space – there are many tasks typically performed while sitting at a desk which don’t actually require the desk (for example: short meetings, talking on the phone, reading etc.) By providing employees with alternative spaces they can chose to stand, or even walk around, while working. Creating pleasant and supportive environments is critical to encouraging change – a nicely lit, ventilated, bright space full of oxygenating plants will inspire employees to use it.
Movement Breaks – one of the most effective ways to prevent injury is to take regular movement breaks. Simply standing and stretching for a few minutes has a huge impact. Employees often find it difficult to take breaks, especially when facing tight deadlines, so need active encouragement to stop working for a few minutes every hour. In addition to the physical benefits a quick stretch or brief walk helps wake-up the mind and enhances mental clarity. This behavioral change can be stimulated with: desktop timers which remind people to take a break; outdoor spaces to get some fresh air (away from dedicated smoking spaces!); marked ‘walking routes’ around buildings; incentives for employees who do take breaks.
Physical Assessments – many people are not in tune with their own physical requirements and need individual attention and assessments to identify potential problems. The mind is very ‘happy’ ignoring big issues and gentle advice – given with the right intention – can motivate individuals to look at personal health challenges. Often people become overwhelmed when faced with significant health problems, such as being very overweight, and greatly appreciate individual attention and a joint plan of action.
Tools and Training – the freedom to work comfortably requires the provision of appropriate equipment and knowledge. Blue tooth headsets, postural supports, correctly sized desks and chairs are all effective in practically supporting staff. Empowering employees should also include training, specific to the job and a general understanding of how to enhance spinal musculature and sit correctly to prevent problems later in life. The provision of effective resources also communicates an organizations genuine dedication to employee well being.
Anti-aging products generate almost $200 billion annually worldwide, yet most of their benefits are purely cosmetic. However, not only can bad posture add years to your appearance, it can accelerate many of the physical problems that come with aging. Here are some of the reasons why you may want to make your posture a priority from now on.
Bad posture makes you look old…and fat.
Standing up straight, with your head held high, pulls your belly in naturally. Slumping over will cause rolls of fat to appear on your upper abdomen, and that’s not all. Janice Novak, author of Posture, Get it Straight notes that “…when you are slouched over, your internal organs have nowhere to go but down and out—you immediately look fatter.”
Additionally, you can literally become hunchbacked. Building up fat to protect the spine is how your body alleviates the stress of misalignment. The result is a hump on your upper back.
Bowel movements can become an issue.
In any diagram of the human body’s internal organs, you will notice that they are shown in a body that is standing upright. So, if you stop to think about it, slouching will definitely affect their placement. Unsurprisingly, that will in turn negatively affect their function.
Significantly arching your spine can cause your intestines to sag. This often leads to constipation.
Long-term bad posture can result in muscle distortion that affects your balance.
For every muscle group working in one way, there is a muscle group working in the opposite way. These counteracting groups are called agonist and antagonist muscles. Poor posture sometimes means that you are constantly working one group without the opposing muscles getting the equal amount of exercise they are supposed to have.
The result is often some muscles being stretched longer than they are meant to be, while others are being excessively shortened or tightened. Such distortion can cause decreased balance and range of motion.
Where did those aching joints come from?
Our bodies are miracles of engineering. But, simply put, they are meant to work at peak efficiency in an upright position. Our joints are given the amount of protective tissue they need according to the amount of load bearing they are expected to experience. A misaligned spine distributes weight improperly, causing some joints to bear more weight than they were meant to.
The areas most commonly affected by this misalignment are the knees, spine and shoulders. So if your posture is too bad, for too long, you may find yourself with the aching joints that would not be expected until much later in life.
What’s the solution?
It’s challenging enough to try and slow down the natural aging process, so you probably don’t want to hasten it unnecessarily. The problem is, breaking the habit of a lifetime can be really difficult. It means entirely retraining yourself, and learning good posture is no different.
However, reacting to the gentle vibrations of the UPRIGHT is actually involuntary. That means UPRIGHT’s method of training almost completely subconscious, so you barely even have to think about it. Never has breaking a lifelong bad habit been easier, or faster.