Sitting at a desk staring at a computer for eight hours a day doesn’t sound all too appealing but unfortunately, it’s a reality for many of us today. Consider your posture right now. How are you sitting while you’re reading this? Are your shoulders slouched forward and your chin hung low? Do you have any back or neck pain? Any tightness in your shoulders?
There are many benefits to correcting posture and combating slouching.
A randomized trial undertaken by Auckland University tested whether slumped or upright postures affect stress responses. 74 participants were broken into two groups, one maintaining a forced slumped posture and one a forced upright posture. The group who slumped reported feelings of negativity and sadness while the upright group reported feeling high self-esteem and an overall better mood. The researchers determined that maintaining an upright posture is a possible behavioral strategy for building resilience to stress. According to an article on Spine-Health, poor posture can incite back pain by constricting blood vessels and nerves while putting unwanted stress on the muscles, discs, and joints. And according to a Gallup poll 27% of U.S. adults have visited a healthcare provider for significant back or neck pain in the past 12 months, and of those adults 54% had an ongoing problem with neck or back pain for five years or more.
Slouching is a more serious problem than people think and we, as corporate executives, have a lot to benefit from correcting this issue. Keep reading for five simple ways for how to stop slouching!
1) Sit Correctly
The first step seems obvious but we’re all guilty. If our work is going to require sitting for long periods of time, we need to do it correctly. According to the Cleveland Clinic we should be sitting with our backs straight and our shoulders pulled back with our buttocks touching the back of the chair. Knees should be bent at a right angle and feet flat on the floor. Good seated posture is key in how to stop slouching. Try this the next time you are at your desk preparing a report or on a conference call or use a posture coach to sit straighter and stand taller!
2) Stop Looking Down at Your Computer Screen
Stop looking down. Your computer needs to be at a suitable level for your height. No good comes from having your neck forward in the same poor position for eight hours a day, five days a week, year after year. Keeping your neck in a constant state of tension, like when we slouch forward and down, can cause neck and back pain which, if untreated, could result in chronic pain.
A remedy may be to elevate your computer screen to bring it closer to eye level. Sitting on a taller or shorter chair may accomplish the same goal. The same researchers from the University of Auckland study concluded that sitting upright can reduce negative mood while increasing positive mood. Maybe the next time you’re writing emails you try this, your words could come across more positive to your employees, and I think you might agree that creating a positive work environment can have positive impacts on a company’s production.
3) Take Breaks and Move
Working in a corporate office is usually fairly sedentary: you are checking emails, sitting through meetings, reading documents, etc. These are all activities that promote slouching.
By taking small breaks you can reenergize, refocus, and counter slouching. Taking time to get up from your seat and move can be as easy as walking a lap around the office every 30 minutes, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or having a moving meeting (i.e. two people walking and talking instead of sitting at a conference table).
One of the easiest ways for how to stop slouching? Take breaks and move! Researchers from the University of Colorado found that there is a benefit to taking small exercise “microbursts” throughout the day. By doing so it is possible to reduce fatigue and increase energy and mood levels while maintaining cognitive performance.
4) Stretches to Stop Slouching
Here are some quick stretches you can do at your desk:
-Seated twist: sit up tall with spine long, take a deep breath in and twist to the right bringing right hand to the right ride of your chair and left hand to the outer right knee. Take a few breaths and switch sides;
-Side bends: sit up tall with spine long, inhale and reach right hand to the right hip and the left hand up and over the head, reaching toward the right side. Take a few breaths and switch sides;
-Shoulder rolls: sit up tall with spine long, roll shoulders up towards ears and continue rolling down the back and then back up to the starting position. Roll a few times then reverse direction.
5) Use a Standing Desk
When we’re standing we have more body awareness. Being more aware of our posture will allow us to keep our shoulders back, core engaged, and crown of the head reaching upward. With a standing desk you can adjust the height as needed so you’ll never have to look down towards your screen.
According to the Journal of Physical Health and Activity, standing desks may help reduce shoulder and back pain and a study by the University of Pittsburgh states that standing desk increase energy expenditure. Interested in trying a standing desk?
Take a look at yourself right now. How are you sitting while you’re reading this? If you’re at work right now feeling stressed or tired, maybe you should give it a try. If your back or neck are in pain, what have you got to lose? Just think about it- how can you stop slouching? These are actions that you as an executive can take to help yourself and your team. Correcting your seated posture can have many benefits for your physical and mental health. Your mood can brighten. Your work productivity can grow. Try these tips today!
Do you have any advice on how to stop slouching? Please comment below with your suggestions!