Ergonomics in the Workplace – How to Look, Feel and Move Better With Posture!
We all want to look, feel and move better. The question is how. Perhaps you are thinking about what you should do in the gym. Weights? Cardio? Special Stretches? While proper workouts can help, it is not enough. If you are like most people, you spend an hour or less in the gym each day. That leaves you 23 hours to either help or hurt your body. What you do when you are not at the gym will make or break how you look, feel and move. This is where posture and ergonomics in the workplace come in.
This is an important issue for companies as proper office ergonomics can help increase productivity, reduce work time loss due to pain and injuries, save money and yield happier workers. However, in this post, let us focus on you and what better posture and ergonomics can do for you and how Curastream’s custom designed Office programs can help you lessen the pain.
Office ergonomics and posture will help you feel better
Take the time to make sure your workplace is not putting you in bad positions. When your body is out of proper alignment, some part will suffer. Bad positions stress your joints and connective tissues. You get tension headaches, an achy back, and stiff, tight muscles.
When you align your body and keep it in more optimal positions throughout the day, good things happen. Your head and neck feel better. Your joints stop aching. You breathe better and easier. Your muscles feel relaxed and supple.
Computer ergonomics will help your neck and back health
Many people spend most of their workdays in front of a computer and too often, these are laptops. Because the screens are much lower than your natural eye height, you will move into that forward rounded position as your eyes move down to screen height. This forces you to round your upper back, slump your shoulders and hyperextend your neck.
If you do only one thing to change your computer ergonomics, get your screen height up to natural eye level. You can do this by having a separate monitor to plug your laptop into or by raising your laptop up to eye height and using a separate USB keyboard & mouse.
Proper Posture and Ergonomics Help You Move Better
Your body adapts to the demands you place on it. If you spend all day sitting in your office chair and slumped over your computer, your body will get better at it. Yes, you read that right – your body actually gets in better sitting shape. It shortens the muscles that are in a shortened position all day. These include hamstrings, hip flexors, chest, lats, abs, biceps and neck extensors. Since your glutes and upper back in a stretched position all day, they get longer and weaker as you sit in your chair.
The problems arise as you rise from your chair. Standing, walking, house chores, yard work, running, sports, gym, and recreation activities demand something much different from sitting in your chair. Your sitting-adapted muscles and joints make these activities more challenging and put you at a greater risk for injury. For example, your stiff upper back makes anything overhead more challenging and more stressful to your shoulder and rotator cuff. The muscular changes in your hips tilt your pelvis forward and increase the stress on your low back. This makes movement less enjoyable. These changes also decrease hip power, which makes you feel like you have lost a step in your pick-up basketball games.
Proper Posture and Ergonomics Help You Look Better
At this point, you might be saying, “Who cares about all that stuff – I just want to look better. If this is you, do not worry, I get it. However, many people with aesthetic-based goals fail to realize two important truths:
1) You will instantly look better with better posture
2) You will be able to train harder and longer with better posture and this will help you look better.
Standing tall with your chest up, and shoulders back instantly improve how you look. For men, it makes your pecs look bigger and broader. For women, it lifts your breasts. It gives you the look of confidence and strength. If you are over 30, try standing tall, squeeze your shoulder blades and tighten your glutes – you will look 10 years younger and 10lbs lighter. Many women also struggle with their lower abs. They do not understand that besides body fat levels, pelvic tilt plays a significant role in how flat your lower abs appear. The same posture corrections that reduce forward pelvic tilt also flatten your lower abs.
Training to improve your appearance (burn fat and/or build muscle) requires a lot of hard work and a decent amount of training volume. If your body aligned with good posture, you can train it harder with less chance of injury. If you are placing less stress on your body because of better ergonomics, again you have more capacity to stress your body in the gym.
I hope that by now I have sold you why posture is important. Now, let us look at some practical ways you can improve your posture and ergonomics so you can enjoy these benefits:
- Look first to your lifestyle. Poor body positions in work and life are the typical cause of poor posture. Take a good look at what positions you find yourself in throughout the day.
- Practice good posture as much as you can throughout the day. Put reminders up in a key spot to help you develop a new habit of thinking about your posture.
- Find some posture-accountability partners who are around you often (e.g. friends, spouse, co-workers, or your kids – I dare you). Tell these people that you are trying to improve and ask them to tell you if they notice you standing or sitting with bad posture.
- Get a standing desk if possible
- Find active leisure activities – especially if you have a desk job
- Don’t over-do your mirror muscles (e.g. chest, biceps, abs) as they can pull you into poor posture
- Do more mobility work for your hip flexors, chest, lats, abs, biceps and neck extensors.
- Spend more time training the muscles you cannot see in the mirror (e.g. glutes and upper back). Make sure they are getting more work than the mirror muscles.
- If you are interested in getting your posture assessed, check out our Curastream Postural Assessments
- Check out our full line of programs for members that will help you move, feel and look better than ever
- Stay tuned for more information on posture & ergonomics…
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