Importance of Good Posture
Good posture correctly positions your ligaments, joints, and muscles, which reduces stress on your body. Proper alignment helps prevent injury in the lower back, knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows.
Proper Ergonomics in the Workplace
- Sitting for long periods of time can lead the body to become sore as a result of muscle inactivity.
- Sit directly in front of the keyboard and computer screen to avoid lengthy reaching.
- Position the monitor 18 to 24 inches from your eyes so that you have to look slightly down to see it.
- Ensure your legs fit beneath your desk and position your feet flat on the floor.
- Adjust the chair seat height so your thighs are parallel to the floor with your knees at approximately 90 degrees and slightly lower than your hips.
- Use a work surface that allows your elbows to keep a 90-degree angle.
- Sit upright, maintaining the natural curve of your spine.
- Make sure you have adequate lower back support.
- Do not slouch forward. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Soften your wrists and keep them in a straight, neutral position.
- Give your eyes a break by closing them briefly and focusing on a distant object.
- Lifting is taxing on the body. By lifting with your large, strong leg muscles instead of your smaller, more delicate back muscles, you can prevent back injuries and low back pain.
- Get close to the load.
- Keep yourself in an upright position while squatting.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to support the spine.
- Lift with your legs.
- Pivot with your feet, not your back. Avoid twisting from side to side.
- Ask for help when lifting large or heavy loads.
- For overhead loads, use a step stool to elevate yourself until the load is at chest level.
- Place a rolled-up towel vertically between your shoulder blades. If you cannot feel the towel, you are slouching forward.
- Place a foam pad or towel under your wrists for typing.
- Place a towel or book under your toes to create a relaxed angle at your hips.
- Place your computer on books to orient it to eye level.
Exercises and Tools for the Workplace
Poor posture prompts both the chest and the hip flexor muscles to become short and tight, as well as the muscles of the upper back to become long and weak. Consequently, a properly designed exercise program should focus on stretching the hip flexor and chest muscles and strengthening the scapular (shoulder stabilizers), glutes (butt muscles), and spinal erectors (lower back muscles).
- Doorway Chest Stretch – Stand in a doorway facing perpendicular to wall. Place the front of your shoulders and forearms on the surface of the wall. Position your bent elbows at about the same height as your shoulders. Position one foot behind the other to assume a lunge stance. Lean into the wall allowing your shoulders to be pushed back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Lunge forward with your knee on a padded mat. Beware that your knee does not move beyond your foot. Position your hands on your knee. Straighten the hip of your back leg by pushing your hips forward. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Physioball Y, T – Lie face down on the top of the ball so that your back is level and your chest is off the ball. Create a Y and then a T with your arms straight. Lift your arms by squeezing your shoulder blades together (retraction). Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
- Flute Bridge – Lie face up on the ground with your arms positioned at your sides, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and your heels flat on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes. Hold for a couple of seconds. Repeat 10 times. You should feel this exercise in your glutes, and to a lesser extent in the hamstrings and low back.