There’s a health epidemic sweeping homes and workplaces across the globe and it doesn’t have a hard-to-pronounce scientific name. It’s called slouching!
It affects millions of people, and is often due to the ever-increasing time we spend staring at our computer, TV and phone screens. Our necks bear most of this strain and without some good practices in place, the list of problems it causes can start to grow.
Good neck posture not only improves your physical appearance, it can increase your confidence and help to prevent you from acquiring a variety of health conditions that can pose hazards to your well-being.
Poor posture can lead to long-term discomfort in your neck and back, headaches, and muscle and joint imbalances. Slouching can also negatively affect blood flow and digestion and put undue pressure on organs, nerves and joints. Over time, these factors lead to mechanical damage and increased levels of oxidative stress which may develop into serious long-term health conditions.
Your neck consists of 7 bones and an even larger number of joints and ligaments.
It is an extremely important body part as it carries all the nerves from your brain and contains major blood vessels, your airways and your esophagus. Given this, it’s amazing that so many of us spend more time looking after our hair than our necks!
The joints that allow us to flex, nod and twist our necks bear the brunt of poor posture and are often the first thing to experience issues. Discomfort and damage here can restrict your movements making every-day tasks such as working at a computer difficult and much less productive. Special joints between our neck bones called discs can “slip” which can be excruciating and result in long-term restriction of mobility and function.
The strain that poor neck posture creates can also negatively affect our muscles and these problems can spread to surrounding areas such as the back and shoulders.
Today, there are thousands of ergonomic chairs, exercise stability balls, gadgets, apps and programs designed to improve your posture, and while they are very useful tools, it is up to you to take control and replace your old, bad habits with new, beneficial ones. After all, you can still slouch in an expensive orthopedic chair!
In the office, the positioning of your chair, desk, computer screen, keyboard and mouse all influence the overall ergonomics of your work space, and considering how much time the average person spends here, a small investment of your time is well worth it. Ensure that your office chair is the correct height and has adjustable armrests as well as good lumbar support. Sitting position is also crucial to avoiding the issues that come with prolonged bad posture. Your back should be straight, shoulders not slumped and your forearms and thighs should be parallel to the ground. The top of your monitor should be at eye level and your keyboard and mouse not more than shoulder-width apart. If your feet do not sit flat on the floor after making these adjustments then try using a foot stool.
Maintaining good neck posture also extends to the way we sit when we are at home, when we drive and using the right pillows when we sleep. Regular stretching, exercise and spending a good amount of time on your feet are also very important as they help to keep your spine straight and flexible, while strengthening your muscles and ligaments. In no time these simple practices will become second nature and your old bad habits will be replaced by new, much healthier ones. This will allow you to be both more comfortable and productive and will help you avoid many potentially serious complications further down the road.