As technology progresses, it seems that our posture degrades. One such posture is the common ‘Deskworker’ or Slouch position.
Whenever the brain starts to focus on the computer, video game, or phone, it has a tendency to forget the body. The shoulders and neck come forward, causing everything else to tighten up naturally.
Correcting your posture is simple. Maintaining it? That’s requires refocusing your brain.
Shoulder and Neck posture
- Sit up straight
The first thing you’ll want to do is attempt to sit up straight. Most everyone does know how to do this. Even this action alone could give you insight into what hurts and how forward you were sitting.
2. Bring your shoulders back and open up your chest
If you’ve been sitting in the forward position for a while, you should feel a tugging sensation in your chest and/or by your shoulder joints.
3. Bring your head back so your ears match up with your shoulders.
The tip of your earlobes are supposed to be on the same vertical plain as your shoulders. If you bring your shoulders back, then move your head into a position where your ears seem to match with the tip of your shoulders, that will force your body to go into the correct posture. If you’ve been slouching for a while, you might feel a tugging sensation in the front, back, and side of your neck.
“Bringing myself into proper posture makes me ache.”
That’s a sign you need to stretch. Let me show you a few you can do right at your desk.
Are you sitting at a desk? Try this stretch.
First, sit up straight. Now, you can either sit on one hand, or put it down by your side and flatten your palm. Take your other hand and put it on top of your head. Now gently bring your neck to one side.
Tip: If your Left hand is the one your sitting on/ flattening then you’ll be stretching your neck towards the Right.
Note: I am modifying the stretch shown here slightly by having the person sit on their hand first. It brings the shoulder downwards.
Don’t get out of this position quite yet. While you’re stretching off to the side, very gently tilt your chin down.
Both of these stretches not only help your posture, but they also stretch a lot of muscles that cause headaches and fatigue. Sometimes it can even cause a self adjustment.
Note: Please DO NOT force a self adjustment in your neck. This can cause a lot of problems. However, if you do stretch your neck and an adjustment happens, rub your neck lightly. As long as you don’t have any lingering pain, that means the body just corrected itself.
Chest and Shoulders
What about that achiness in your chest? Here’s another stretch.
Find a doorway or a corner.
Stand up straight. Now, put one forearm/ hand flat against the doorframe. Now, step forward slightly. You should feel a stretch going across your chest and into the front of your shoulder.
Tip: You can do both shoulders at the same time (as shown below). However, some of my clients have found it more effective to do one arm at a time. If your Left shoulder is being stretched, step forward with your Left foot.
If you’re sitting at your desk still, here’s another stretch.
Note: You don’t have to be laying down for this stretch. You can do it right at your desk!
Sit up or stand up straight (depending on your chair). Put your hands behind your back and clasp them together. Some people will get a stretch in this position alone. To further the stretch, you can try to raise your arms while they’re still behind your back.
Note: If you do any of these stretches and it feels painful or your muscles start to shake, slowly ease out of the stretch. Stretching is not supposed to be painful.
“So what is the correct posture for a deskjob?”
This is easier said than done. Take a look at this Healthier Workplace diagram.
Some things you can also do to help yourself at work:
- Get an ergonomic chair/ desk
- See if a stand/sit desk is possible
- Get a headset if you answer phones a lot
- If your monitor is too low, raise it up. (Some people will put textbooks under their monitors to make this easier.)
- If you have a Laptop, get a separate keyboard and mouse. This will make it easier for you to maintain good posture.
- Set an alarm on your phone to ding at you once every hour or so. The purpose of this is to break your concentration just enough to make you aware of your posture. If you’re slouching, sit up straight.
- If you cannot get a good stretch, try heat then stretching. this helps the muscles relax more into the stretch. A hot shower for 10 minutes usually does the trick.
Personal Note: I see this a lot with clients. On the Massage table, I usually do some stretching with the clients to help their muscles relax more and to give them more range of motion.