Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary describes “neutral posture” as the position which is attained “when the joints are not bent and the spine is aligned and not twisted.” The back will not be strained when good posture is used. It is lined up, as it should be and is not causing any undue pressure on the joints and ligaments of the back.
Although many don’t consider it, incorrect posture can cause many health problems. In fact, many get used to the pain associated with poor posture, rather than making the necessary corrections. Back pain continues, sometimes causing irreparable damage to the structure of the spine. Usually, these problems can be corrected by correcting posture and using office ergonomics, particularly for those who need to sit at their jobs most of the day.
400 pounds of pressure is put on your lower back when you sit in a chair. No wonder people have back problems, when you consider how they sit sideways, lean over and tilt to the side while working at their desks. Add other problems such as a chair with no support, poor lighting and lack of movement, and you are in for major back complaints.
It will help if you can keep the back aligned while both standing and sitting. All the way from the hips up to the head, your body’s weight should be evenly distributed by using good posture. Crossing the legs, tilting the head forward, or leaning to one side can all cause the spine to be uneven and cause undue strain on the back.
Our bodies were made to move, so the body can only sit for so long and remain healthy. If you will exercise, it will help prevent many of your health problems and will help you keep a good posture throughout the day. Walking, bicycling and swimming are all especially helpful in keeping the body conditioned while strengthening muscles.
While working at your desk, it’s important to change positions often. Muscles get weary and then slouching and poor posture begins to occur. By moving about more often, the muscles are stimulated and don’t have the tendency to become lethargic. It can be helpful to set a timer to remind you to get up and move about.
Regardless of what you are doing throughout the day, be sure and remember to maintain good posture and good ergonomic principles. Do not cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, but keep your head up straight. In order to keep the muscles strong when typing, use support under your hands and wrists. When lifting heavy objects, be sure and bend at the knees and especially avoid twisting your back which can result in back injury.
It’s important to wear good footwear when standing. Although many women like high-heeled shoes, they affect the center of gravity for the body and give it an incorrect alignment. This puts pressure on the back and legs and negatively affects good posture. A rubber mat on the floor, when standing for long periods of time, can help absorb some of the weight and provide comfort.
If you have not yet invested in an ergonomic desk and ergonomic chair, you need to. These products are made to give your body the support it needs while you work. Other ergonomic items that can be helpful are lumbar back supports, footrests, and even a small pillow in the small of the back to give support.
A whole new set of problems can develop by working at a computer all day long. Do not twist, bend, turn or do alot of reaching whle you work at your desk and be sure to use good lighting to save your eyesight. Taking the time to gently stretch your arms, hands and wrists can help them stay limber and avoid the strain from overwork and overuse. The items that you use most often need to be placed near you so you can reach them easily, without stretching. Personalize your space so that it works best for you and your body.
Do not overdo good posture and ergonomics. “Neutral posture” is a relaxed position, not one that is stiff and strained. Your muscles should be relaxed and able to move easily and smoothly. When you have had back problems, it’s easy to over-compensate by avoiding any movement or sitting in one stationery position. However, this does not help your back to heal any faster and will, in fact, cause more problems. Once again, your back muscles will be strained from lack of movement. Don’t overprotect, but use common sense and slowly add more movement after dealing with strained muscles problems.
Last, but not least, be aware of warning signs of poor posture and muscle strain. Do not ignore the pain, hoping it will go away on its own. Often, just a simple change in the position of your chair or desk or moving things around can help you find relief. A new job, a new chair, or even a new keyboard can bring on new areas of stress to your body. Take things slowly and be flexible as your body tries to adjust to new products and places. With some time and effort, you can consciously improve your posture and ultimately your overall health.