The statistics are clear: our screen resolutions have never been higher, and our immune systems have never been weaker. Constantly wired, we spend much of our time clicking from our seats. While some generate social media traffic and others complete side quests, we’ve all become accustomed to a mostly sedentary life. Even when brainstorming, we remain bent over our desks, with our minds constantly rushing and our bodies inactive.
It takes little time and even less effort to become inert and slouchy, but such habits shortly and inevitably lead to pain. Sore backs, necks, and shoulders are then frequently followed up by poor breathing, digestive issues, tension headaches, and even stress and depression. Still, all of these burdensome consequences can be easily nipped in the bud or alleviated once they start emerging — all it takes is a bit of awareness. Here are our five tips for offloading back pain by fixing your posture.
1. Stretch, Ready, Go
Over the years, we’ve all become experts at finding a good excuse for not being physically active. Either we work hard and have no time to devote to exercising, or it’s simply too hard to begin with. Well, fitness programs have come a long way since gyms were the only places equipped for working out. Nowadays, there are hundreds of them for each muscle group, specific purpose, and particular lifestyle habits available online, and most of them require not more than a half an hour per day.
Even if some toning exercises are too demanding, good posture routines never are. All they require is a bit of stretching, a couple of shoulder rolls, chest releases, a pyramid, a chair pose, and some standing side bends — basically, it’s a 7-step routine we’ve all done on our PE classes that lasts no longer than 20 minutes.
As simple as they are, these exercises will not only relieve you of aches and allow you to breathe, sit and function normally, but they will also grant you a couple of minutes of unadulterated peace and harmonize your body and mind. It’s a few drops of sweat a day for a lifetime of being pain-free.
2. Tech Support
However bad for our health, slouching seems quite impossible to avoid. Described as the “smoking of our generation,” it’s a habit easily developed not only by passionate bingers and enthused gamers, but by anyone with long studying and working hours as well. Luckily, smart technology has been significantly improving our lives for the last decade, and when this particular issue is in question, it can help a great deal.
Meet wearable tech! It’s clever and intuitive, cool, unnoticeable, and above all, hugely beneficial for our alignment. A fine selection of magnetic sensors, posture braces, activity trackers, and posture improvement devices are now available and mostly affordable for most of us in need of something to remind us of our bodies while our brains are working hard.
The principle of work behind these wearables varies from simple sitting correction to complex signal reminders. Some of them emit tiny vibrations to your lower back each time your spine starts to curve while sitting, some monitor walking posture, and others simply prevent your back from slouching by keeping them straight. Taken together, they are an important addition to regular exercises and a much-needed support for your sitting body.
3. Legs on the Floor, Eyes on the Screen
An ergonomically correct workstation needs much more than a comfortable chair. It’s a space you spend most of your time, whether focused on long-term business plans and current exams or excited about that heart-stopping landscape view from the ruins of Drahim Castle. Having it properly set up will not only make your sitting hours more pleasurable but will keep your spine, joints and muscles pressure-free and healthy in the long run.
The natural sitting posture, as experts claim, is quite similar to your driving pose. Scoot your chair from the desk, and try adopting it. Once you find the position that keeps you straight but feeling comfortable enough, start adjusting your environment accordingly. The space between your keyboard and mouse should allow your arms to form a 90-degree angle, and your screen should be at proper distance and height in order for you to avoid “turtling.”
Only when all of these elements are in place, your ergo chair can do its magic. Choose it to suit the shape, length, and height of your body and, if needed, find one that won’t allow you to change your pose too often.
4. Harmonize Your Body and Mind
Keeping your back straight and your shoulders and neck in perfect alignment may take some time getting used to. While the mind concentrates on work, the body relaxes and starts to slouch; before you finally become aware of your poor posture, a couple of hours have already passed. Luckily, there are a few magical tricks that can keep you in contact with your body, and remind your brain to send signals down to your spine.
“It’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion,” says Jonathan F. Bean of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Every half an hour, if not more frequently, stand up from your seat and stretch your legs or simply sit up, straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back and breathe. Until you adopt this as a regular habit, scribble a note to yourself on your computer screen as a reminder.
Even if you don’t have many difficulties with this, consider introducing a yoga session to your weekly routine. There’s simply not a better technique for reconnecting your mind with your body — it will straighten your core but make you more flexible at the same time and remind you to breathe properly. Most importantly, one yoga class a week will make you aware of the utter importance of living healthy and taking care of both your spirit and physique.
5. Inhale; Exhale
Hyperkyphosis, as scientists call it, or bad posture, as we all know it, unavoidably results in restricted and shallow breathing. The two are always interconnected, which is why improving them both is paramount for your overall health.
Apart from being much healthier, breathing through a diaphragm is actually the only normal respiratory technique. Unlike upper chest breathing, which forces a lot of air out and thus causing us to feel breathless, agitated, and tired, this technique lets just enough air and does so in a controlled and deliberate manner. Additionally, it helps you to stay focused and aware of your body, something you’ll definitely need for improving your posture.
However beneficial, these five tips are highly unlikely to get you anywhere if practiced alone. Once you start exercising regularly and breathing correctly, alter your sitting habits to support your back, shoulders, and neck, and embrace wearable tech to remind you of the importance of sitting straight in case you do eventually slip, your posture will finally be perfect, and your body pain-free.
Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/scott-webb-39047/ via pexels.com