Most of us have vivid memories from childhood of a slap on the wrist, whether from our parents or a teacher, accompanied by some variation on the phrase “sit up straight!” Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work – we’re a nation of slouchers. Putting the disappointment of our mothers aside for a moment, there are real reasons to start taking our posture seriously as adults. Bad posture only begets worse posture, which can contribute to a myriad of health issues that take a major toll on businesses in terms of healthcare costs, performance and productivity. Back problems cost U.S. companies an estimated $100-200 billionannually, and research has shown that our bad posture can contribute to low libido, make us look lazier, shorter and heavier than we are, and even take 5 years off our lives!
But how does it get that bad? For most of us, it starts in the office. People who work at computers spend an average of 38 minutes out of every hour in bad posture – this clearly isn’t setting a good precedent, and only reinforces bad habits. Between misunderstandings about what constitutes “good posture,” keyboards and monitors poorly placed on desks that aren’t the right height, and “ergonomic” chairs that are all too comfortable to slouch in, we’re entrenched in bad posture habits. So why aren’t we doing anything to fix it?
Well, old habits die hard. On top of that, the solutions on the market right now ask too much of us: uncomfortable wearables and time-consuming seminars that expect us to take their laundry list of exercises home with us just don’t fit into the average working person’s routine. With all of that working against us, how do we start to get better? Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips that companies rolling out wellness programs can offer to their workforces.
Unfortunately, some of the traditional advice that we associate with good posture involves forcing ourselves into positions that are actually pretty uncomfortable. This really shouldn’t be the case. Any time you’re uncomfortable, something is wrong. If something hurts, it’s time to readjust.
Get your butt into position
It all starts with your butt. If you sit “on your butt bones” per se, you shouldn’t have to expend energy holding yourself up. First lift your butt to the back of your chair and face your pelvis forward, and then sit down–that way the chair holds your pelvis in the right place.
Don’t sit up straight
Yes, you read that right! We’re all taught to lift our chest and hold our shoulders back. That’s wrong–it starts with placing your butt in the right place. The spine is tricky because when you “sit up straight” you’re actually arching your back backwards. That makes your back tight and tips your vertebrae. The bottom line, no pun intended, is that sitting up straight is bad for your back–once you get your butt in the right place, you actually go down a little in the front. Correct posture is relaxed, when the bones are positioned right they hold your body weight and allow the muscles to relax.