DOES “BAD” POSTURE LEAD TO PAIN?
The short answer here is no, not necessarily. Does that mean sitting slumped over a desk all day is also fine? I would say the answer is also, no, not necessarily. Most people spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week sitting at a desk. That is a huge portion of the day! Our bodies learn by what we teach it so essentially we are teaching our bodies to like to be in that position. If we equate it to learning a skill, imagine spending that same amount of time training to learn a task or skill. We would get pretty good at it, pretty quickly! Think of sitting at a desk all day as exactly that – we are training our bodies to sit all day! The compensation and injury now happens when you want to get up and go for a run or a bike ride or lift heavy weights, which is now different and not what our bodies are used to doing. This can now lead to pain.
IS THERE A “CORRECT” OR “IDEAL” POSTURE?
The answer to this is also, no. Everybody is different. What seems to be the key when it comes to reducing risk of injury and pain, is movement. There are ergonomic chairs and desk setup etc which can help reduce the risk of developing pain or an injury. However, if you are still in the same position, doing the same movements every day, this is when overuse injuries can occur.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE OR PREVENT INJURY AND PAIN?
We like to tell our clients to move as much as possible throughout the day. This doesnt have to be anything major or for any specific lengths of time. Here are some of the tips we give:
1. Sit/Stand Desk – If your company has the option for a sit to stand desk, take it! You can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day which will prevent you from being in one position too long.
2. Stand Up During the Day – If you don’t have a standing desk, thats ok. Stand up when reaching for something or taking a call.
3. Water Breaks – Take water breaks! A lot of people use this tactic. Bring a smaller cup or water bottle so you have to get up to refill it more frequently. Also, more water breaks lead to more bathroom breaks!
4. Set an Alarm – Set an alarm on your phone or computer as a reminder to get up and/or move. Every 15-20 minutes is great to set a reminder for yourself to do a posture check. Sit up and rotate neck and shoulders, pump your ankles and feet, stand up and sit back down, etc. Usually people can get so caught up in projects that hours can go by without any movement at all. Setting an alarm is a good way to bring awareness!
5. Be Mindful – Be mindful of what causes discomfort throughout the day. When you realize you feel something, take note of what you are doing. Maybe there is something that can be changed like the position of your monitor, height of chair, etc.
While most cannot escape being at a desk all day, these simple tips can help you be more comfortable throughout your day and then can prevent pain and injury later on!