Picture yourself at your office desk. What does your body look like? Are you hunched forward, typing away on a computer whose screen is so high you have to force your chin up? Or are you sitting back, slouching in your chair with your legs crossed?
The way we sit at work affects the comfort of our bodies—and we all know how unenjoyable back and neck pain are. However, there are five ways that you can combat this pain and improve your posture at work.
1. Don’t cross your legs
Crossing your legs is one example of a bad posture habit. Though it may seem natural, crossing your ankles or legs can cause hip misalignment and lead to intense back pain.
To sit correctly, both feet should be flat on the ground. This may take some getting used to. If you find yourself subconsciously moving back to a crossed position, set a timer for every ten minutes to readjust and make sure your legs are still flat.
2. Adjust your monitor
If you constantly feel like you are tilting your head up or down at work and are experiencing neck pain because of it, it may be because of your computer monitor height. You should adjust your monitor, if possible, to your natural resting eye position.
This will help you keep your head and neck straight with your head resting in line with your shoulders.
Every time you get up to visit the breakroom or to use the restroom, do some light stretching. Lifting your arms over your head and stretching to the sides and back will help elongate and energize your spine.
There are also stretches you can try while you sit at your desk, like stretching out your legs and pointing your toes or twisting in your seat. Stretching can help you feel more comfortable and you might find it easier to relax in your seat.
4. Use posture-friendly props
Since crossing your legs can cause back pain, you might need a modifier to help you adjust to the change. Using footrests while sitting in your office chair can help you sit comfortably while not crossing your legs.
Other props to use include portable lumbar back supports or a rolled towel, both of which push against your spine forcing you to sit straight. These props are useful when you are adjusting to a better posture.
Some people choose to sit on exercise balls instead of office chairs because they feel it naturally balances their posture by rocking the pelvis forward to intensify the lumbar curve of the back.
While you want to maintain good posture, you shouldn’t overthink it to the point that you feel rigid or uncomfortable. Restricting your movement by clenching your muscles can lead to strains and pulls that result in more pain.
Try working on one aspect of good posture every day until you feel completely relaxed and comfortable with how you sit.
Not only is poor posture bad for your back and neck, but it also makes you look less professional. Greeting people while you are “comfortably” slouched behind your desk doesn’t communicate well to others–especially your boss.
Learning to improve your posture will help you feel more comfortable and appear more presentable.