Sitting is bad, slouching is worse!
If you think back to childhood, there’s a good chance you’ll remember your parents admonishing you to “sit straight!” They were spot on in trying to correct bad posture, as this can reduce or eliminate back pain and fatigue and lead to better breathing and improved blood circulation.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to tell grownups to sit straight! Hunching or slouching is a common sight at most workplaces today. What we don’t know is that hunching doesn’t just bend the spine in an unnatural curve, but also compresses our thoracic and abdominal cavities. Compression of the thoracic cavity reduces our lung capacity (yup, it’s not just the air pollution!) while compression of the abdominal cavity compromises our digestive system (food isn’t the only cause of acidity!).
Interestingly, some of us have a proper posture when we stand, but don’t know how to maintain it when we use a smartphone or a laptop. Neither the smart phone nor the laptop was designed for continuous use, and learning to use them properly is important. According to Dr. F.M. Alexander, the joint between our head and spine is the primary connection that controls how we work, and a bent neck messes up this connection leading to poor performance.
Smart ways to improve your posture
The right furniture and workstation accessories can go a long way in helping you improve your posture. If you use a laptop for several hours at a stretch, try using it with a laptop stand that raises the display (see the picture below) to eye level. To make this life-changing switch, all you need is an external keyboard and mouse.
If you use a smartphone, use it with your arms raised up, never look down at it on your lap. There’s a reason ‘Text Neck’ is now a term! It’s used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone. You can avoid this by keeping your head up while looking at your phone, instead of bending your neck down
Modern office chairs are also one of the reasons we sit badly. The ideal way to sit is with your thighs slanting down (as shown below), not horizontal or sloping up. One way to do this is by sitting at the edge of your chair. But commonly available ‘ergonomic’ chairs do not allow us to do that. Instead, switch to a saddle chair, which allows one to sit properly with thighs sloping down.
While we can’t change the fact that we have to work on new-age devices, we can reduce the associated health risks by using the right furniture and accessories. These can help us improve posture, enhance productivity and live a better life.
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