Poor posture is a growing concern for health care professionals out there. From chiropractors to massage therapists to yoga teachers to doctors, clients and patients are seeking help for sore backs more than ever.
It’s a concern because bad posture causes a chain reaction in a person’s physical health. Since no body part operates exclusively on its own, it’s important to have the overall mechanics of the body in good shape in order to achieve overall health.
So when it comes to sitting versus standing, what’s the best option?
We’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking”. In other words, sitting is so bad for us it does the same kind of negative damage that smoking causes to our body’s systems. While this is a little extreme, there is a kernel of truth to it.
The act of sitting on its own isn’t necessarily terrible for a person, but it’s the way in which they sit and for how long that becomes a concern. If you work in an office, there’s a good chance you spend the majority of your time sitting. Plus the time you travel to and from work, either in a car or on transit—also sitting. And then there’s the time eating: usually sitting. Oh, and then to wind down at the end of the day, you might decide to sit down to watch tv or read a book, and you’ll probably sit for that, too.
When we spend the majority of our lives sitting and not paying attention to our posture, our spines become compressed and our lower backs take the brunt of our upper body’s weight. Our internal organs and digestive system is also compressed, making it more difficult to do their jobs. Our legs and joints don’t get as much use and become weak and stiff. And we are often leaning the weight of our heads forward, rolling our shoulders in and causing our upper backs to sag.
All of this combined can lead to bad posture and a bad back. So yes, good posture is extremely important, here are some tips to help you achieve that.
• Stand more often. If you aren’t ready to convert to a standing desk yet, set a reminder on your phone so that you stand up and stretch at least once an hour.
• Don’t slouch! Easier said than done but making sure that your work space is set up so that your screen is straight in front of your eyes rather than down will help.
• Straighten up every time you walk through a doorway. This might sound a little odd but if you can start training yourself to roll your shoulders back and stand up straight every time you walk through a doorway, you might be surprised how it quickly becomes your standard.
• Get moving! Whether it’s a walk outside during your lunch break or yoga, the guy or a team sport in the evening, adding regular exercise will strengthen your core, your back and will improve your posture.
Another way to think about it is that our spines are our greatest asset. Not only does our entire central nervous system connect within it, it allows us to be mobile and upright beings. So, let’s do what we can to protect it — they payoff is well worth the effort.