How To Boost Productivity By Tweaking Your Posture
If you’re working eight days a week and still falling behind at the office, it may be time to fix your bad posture. Lousy posture, especially slouching, zaps your energy levels and productivity. Get out of a work slump (literally) with our posture tips.
Posture and productivity go hand-in-hand
A lot can go wrong when you’re working at the office. You may hunch over your computer, or cradle your phone with your shoulder. You may spend hours of your day sitting without ever stepping outside. You may even eat lunch at your desk, slouching over your cell phone as you scroll through social media.
In this modern age, your posture at the office can have a huge impact on your work. According to the American Chiropractic Association, posture can cause pain, fatigue, stress, and strain, as well as an inefficient use of your energy supply. In other words, bad posture at work could be wiping your energy and giving you aches and pains that keep you from doing your best. To maximize productivity, you should try fixing your bad posture. You’ll not only reduce stress but also find renewed energy in your work.
Consequences of bad posture
As we mentioned, bad posture can have negative effects on your energy levels and focus. Specifically, bad posture can cause:
- pain in your back, neck, and shoulders
- joint pain or arthritis
- fatigue or lack of energy
- general muscle strain
Generally speaking, when you have bad posture, your muscles aren’t working efficiently, which means you use more energy than you need to. In addition, if you’re slouching or otherwise contorted, you may not be able to breathe as deeply as you could, which affects your blood flow and energy.
Get rid of external stresses on your posture
First, to enhance your posture, make sure you’re not adding extra stresses to your posture. Below, we’ll give you some of the most common external factors and how to resolve them:
- Uncomfortable working chair and desk: Your working environment should be as comfortable as possible. Make sure you have a chair that you can sit all the way back in. If not, purchase a lumbar pillow to support your back. Your computer screen should be at eye level and your keyboard in easy reach. If you use the phone often at work, you should get a headset instead of cradling a phone with your shoulder.
- High-heeled shoes: High-heeled shoes can change your center of gravity and increase strain on your back muscles. Go for a smaller heel or get inserts to get around the office more comfortably.
- Being overweight or obese: Try to exercise at least 3-5 times a week and maintain a plant-rich diet. By shedding some pounds, you’ll take the pressure off your joints and muscles.
- Weak abdominal muscles: Strengthen your core by doing daily exercises or taking a yoga or pilates class. By maximizing your core, you’ll get a better range of motion and take on heavier loads without excess strain.
What does good posture look like?
By improving your posture, you can maximize the functioning of your body and get back your energy at work. The concept of good posture is to maintain alignment throughout the body while minimizing strain. Good posture should also involve a certain level of flexibility and strength. Let’s go through what good posture should look like while you’re sitting, standing and lying down:
Dos: Keep your feet flat on the floor. Sit all the way back in the chair. Keep your shoulders loose and your arms at ease.
Don’ts: Don’t cross your legs. Don’t sit in the same position for too long.
Dos: Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Have your arms hang loose at your sides. Bend your knees slightly. Stand tall.
Don’t: Don’t push your head out of alignment. Don’t thrust out your chest.
Dos: Use a pillow. Sleep on your side or back. Use a comfortable mattress.
Don’t: Don’t sleep on your stomach.
Common bad posture mistakes
Whew, that’s a lot to think about! If you don’t know where to start to correct your sitting, standing and lying down positions, take a look at these common bad posture mistakes. You may better understand the underlying reasons behind your lousy posture. (These recommendations come directly from the NHS.)
Are you a sloucher?
Slouchers tend to lean against the back of the chair with their bottom at the front of the chair. Instead, you should sit with your bottom all the way to the back of the chair. This will support your muscles without adding strain. If you’re a sloucher, you can better achieve good sitting posture by strengthening your core and back.
Do you sit with a hunched back?
This is a common posture problem, especially when working at your desk or checking your cell phone. When you hunch, you lean forward, causing your shoulders and your neck to stiffen. If you sit with a hunched back, try to sit up tall and make sure your screen is at eye-level to avoid looking down. To prevent stiffness, try to strengthen your upper back and chest, as well as keep your neck straight.
Do you stand with a flat back?
When you stand tall, your body should be in alignment, causing your stomach to tuck in and your back to curve slightly. However, for those who stand with a flat back, your lower back stays straight, causing you to slouch. This position causes stiffness in your neck and back. If you’re standing with a flat back, you’ll need to strengthen relevant muscles, including your core, back, shoulder and neck.
Do you poke out your chin?
Another common bad posture at the office. This posture is caused by an uncomfortable working environment. Usually, the screen is too high or the chair too low, causing you to poke out your chin to see better. If you’re poking out your chin, first adjust your desk settings so that your screen is at eye level. Then, make sure your chin is tucked down and your shoulders back.
Do you have rounded shoulders?
Rounded shoulders happen when your upper back is weak and your chest is tight, causing your shoulders to be pulled forward. This often occurs because of imbalanced exercise programs. If you have rounded shoulders, you should strengthen your upper back and core to put your body back into balance.
Daily posture exercises
If you’re struggling with any of these common bad posture problems, or you want to improve your posture in general, you can try some of these daily posture exercises. Many of these exercises can be done as part of your morning routine. Here are the best eight exercises to strengthen your core, back, chest, shoulders, and neck:
- Plank: Place your hands and feet in the push-up position. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your toes touching the floor. Lift your body and align it in a straight position. Look down at the floor to avoid neck strain.
- Bridges: Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Lift up your hips and align them in a straight position.
- Back extensions: Lie on your stomach and position your elbows bent facing forward. Then, lift your upper body by arching your back.
- Pull-ups: Stand against a bar, rail or fence. Hold onto the bar and lean back. Then, using your core, return to the starting position.
- Chest stretches: Lace your fingers behind your back, with your shoulders loose and down. Feel the stretch in your chest.
- Neck stretches: Roll your chin from shoulder to shoulder slowly, holding the position.
- Shoulder rolls: Move your shoulders all the way back and down, then move them in a circle slowly. You should feel the stretch.
- Chair pose: The chair pose, like many yoga positions, is great for your back and abs. Place your hands straight over your head. Then sit into the position and hold.
Be mindful of your bad posture
In general, the only way to fix bad posture is to be mindful of it. Take note of how you’re sitting, standing and lying down. Make sure you’re not making any common mistakes. Try to create good posture habits and do daily posture exercises to strengthen relevant muscles. Moreover, you can also boost your flexibility by taking a weekly yoga or Pilates class. This will help improve your range of motion and make sure your posture is corrected with exercises like chair pose.
With improved posture, you’ll find yourself with new energy to finish your work projects and avoid common office aches and pains!
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