Desk jobs and Covid-19 have changed the way that we move. Even more, for many people, it has slowed us down and increased our sitting time which is leading to changes in our body that are less than optimal. Here are a few things that you might find intersting.
Patients ask quite often what proper posture is.
For a long time, good or proper sitting posture meant “Secretary Posture”;
- Seated in your chair so that hips and knees are at 90 degrees
- Sitting up tall, shoulders back, head upright
- Elbows at 90 degrees with or without arm rests
- Feet flat on the floor
This is FALSE and this is why.
When our body is in a certain position, there is tension on certain tissues. When there is tension on tissues for an extended period of time (hour after hour, day after day) the tissues not only undergo “strain" but the body realizes that the ranges of motion for the joints doesn’t need to be big. In fact, it encourages our joints to have a smaller range of motion (ROM).
BUT! We want BIG ranges of motion! (more on this below)
So, what is optimal posture?
Good posture is one that CHANGES all of the time. I tell my patients who have no choice but to sit a lot during their work day to set a timer for every 30mins. That is their signal to change up posture. They may choose to:
- Change the tilt in the seat of the chair
- Add or remove a lumbar support pillow
- Change seats to a ball, a kneeling chair or a stool
- Raise or lower the seat
- Add or remove a foot rest
- Put feet up on the desk and the lap top in your lap (yes, this is ok)
- Stand (there are options to add an adjustable height desk to your current desk)
- Walk around when talking on the phone
- Use your speaker option when on the phone rather than holding the phone between your shoulder and ear
There are many ways to change up your posture. Get creative!
Range of Motion (ROM)
As mentioned above, we want big ROM. The more we sit and the less we move our range in which we can move becomes less.
We want to be able to do big arm circles, we want to be able to have the hip mobility to sit on the floor or put on our socks without having to sit down, we want to be able to get into a proper squat…..we cannot do any of these things if we don’t have adequate ROM.
As the old adage goes, if you don’t use it, you loose it!
This is especially true with ROM. If you don’t go through big ranges of motion in your joints, the joints will stiffen and you will loose ROM.
In order to stay on top of your ROM, is to put your joints through their greatest ROM during your work day.
That’s right, stand up and do arm circles, forwards and backwards, slowly. Rotate those ankles while you sit at your desk, big slow ankle circles both ways. Go through movements that are the opposite of desk sitting. If you need more ideas let us know!
Another nice break for your body are Bruegger Exercises. They are a great muscle activation exercise to help your body take a break from its typical desk sitting posture.
Take a look at an example on video here.
- Sit or perch at the edge of your chair on your "sit bones"
- Hold your head up high. Imagine a string fixed at the crown of your head pulling you toward the sky.
- Spread your legs slightly apart to the sides
- Turn your legs out slightly
- Rest your weight on your legs and feet and relax your abdominal muscles
- Tilt your pelvis forward and raise your breastbone up
- Turn your hands palms-up
- Turn your arms slightly outward
- Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Hold this position and take deep "belly" breaths for 10 seconds
- Repeat 3-5x
Photo courtesy of https://www.head2toeosteopathy.com
Variety is the spice of life. And this is especially true with posture. There is no one “perfect posture”. The best posture is one that changes often! Do yourself a favour and change up your seated desk posture every half hour, add some Bruegger Breaks every so often and if you can do some big ROM movements. Your body will thank you. A lot!