When you think about it, sitting sounds like a mundane activity. It just happens to be one of those things most of us do without putting much thought to it. While all this is perfectly reasonable, there’s actually a subtle art to sitting that ensures you’re safeguarded against all possible repercussions that may occur.
In our analysis today, we’ll be looking to break down the fundamentals to a good posture. We’re certain you’ll pick up on a couple of pointers.
Posture refers to the manner in which you hold your body upright whilst resisting the forces of gravity whether you’re lying down, seated or standing. Ideally, good posture involves you taking the initiative to train your body on right ways to lie, sit and stand without straining your muscles and ligaments during motion.
- Good posture ensures that you never get to suffer from muscular pain and backaches.
- Maladies like arthritis are not likely to occur because there’s a substantial decrease in the wearing of joint surfaces.
- Bones and joints are well aligned which leads to efficient muscle use.
- Since muscles are better utilized, you’re less likely to experience fatigue.
- There’s less stress on the ligaments that hold the spinal joints together.
- Proper posture supports healthy body development which may have a massive impact on good appearance.
- The spine benefits greatly from good posture since there’s zero chance of it assuming abnormal positions.
- Once you sort out your posture, you’re never going to experience muscle strain or overuse complications.
The Sitting Skill
As Josh Kaufman posits, it takes about 20 hours of practice for anyone to become proficient at an activity. If you happen to have a desk job that entails you sitting 40 hours a week, this means that you have a lot of time to become an expert as sitting.
While Kaufman’s analogy is agreeable, it does need a little bit of perspective to really get to grips on what it really means. Assuming bad posture over an extended period of time can have detrimental effects on your health.
Many people don’t have an inkling on what good posture really means. This means that there’s a massive number of people out there that are very skilled at improper sitting without even knowing about it. Good posture takes a lot of time and effort to cultivate and nourish. As you embrace the practice, you’ll discover that you’re going to have to unlearn a couple of those bad sitting positions before you get really good at proper posture.
Why You Need to Unlearn Poor Posture
Poor posture leads to a couple of joint strains that may ultimately cause muscles to misfire. When you repetitively engage in the activity for about 5-8 hours a day, you’re bound to pick up it up as a habit.
Studies by researchers have shown that sitting for 2-7 hours in a day is not a healthy practice. This is because it causes your body muscles to switch into a passive mode. In this state, your body is more likely to experience elevated blood sugar levels and a dip in healthy cholesterol levels. Over time, you’re likely to expose yourself to chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes and heart complications.
While the aforementioned ailments are the most renown due to severity, there are numerous other issues that can arise from not maintaining a proper posture. In a matter of speaking, we can refer to the entire scenarios as the perfect orthopedic storm. Why? Because issues like lower back problems, hernias, knee distress, neck pains, carpal distress syndrome, and hip dysfunction are just but a few of the possible strains that you are likely to encounter.
Recent studies have show that posture affects various aspects of our daily lives. Body language is one of those things that has been closely linked to posture.
The Ohio State University was the first to discover that our opinions on various phenomena are actually subconsciously influenced by the movements we make. The experiment conducted showed that sitting upright is more likely to bring up positive memories or happy thoughts.
Skipping during breaks was also discovered to enhance energy levels. On the flip side, taking a slow slumped walk tends to be quite energy draining due to the relative inertness of a couple of body muscles. The same study showed that people suffering from depression usually tend to have their energy drained more than others.
Expansive postures like opening up the body and extending the limbs are primal actions that signify power in the animal kingdom.
Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on how posture tends to influence hormonal levels went viral because of the insights it shared. Following public debate on the matter, researchers at Columbia and Harvard Universities looked into the dynamics that influence confidence.
They discovered that body language actions that show power actually influence our decision-making capabilities subconsciously. To ensure data fidelity, the researchers made a couple of tweaks in their research by exposing participants to varied conditions like constricted spaces where limbs were close to the body, and expansive spaces that allowed them to execute powerful poses.
Interestingly, those who were able to execute powerful poses registered an incredible 45% likelihood to partake in a risky bet. Upon close inspection of the participants’ saliva levels, the researchers noticed that those who engaged in expansive postures actually had altered hormonal levels. More specifically, their cortisol levels were substantially lower and testosterone levels were heightened.
In neuroendocrine studies, people with high testosterone and low cortisol levels have been known to have enhanced disease resistance and leadership capabilities. These strides in the medical world just go to show that our postures are closely linked to our minds. By altering posture and body language, you can massively influence how you think and the decision-making process.
What to Do
Maintaining an upright posture sounds like an easy thing to do. However, without comprehending what’s involved in an upright posture, it’s easy to get lost on the best ergonomic practices to adapt. Let’s get right into it.
Take Care of Your Lower Back While Reclined in Your Chair
The best chair to protect your lower back is one that features a lumbar support system. If you don’t have access to one, it’s always a good idea to configure your chair to support the lower back by introducing a couple of elements. Things like rolled up towels and lumbar rolls can play a pivotal role in helping you sit upright.
These recommendations are essential if you spend lots of time driving. If you’re going to hit the road over extended periods, it’s best to have a lumbar roll at the ready to maintain the natural curve that exists on your lower back.
b. Knees Should be Below the Hips and your Hands Underneath the Elbows
With your feet firmly planted on the ground, aim to have your knees right below the height of your hips. Once in this position, try adjusting your chair’s height to enhance your comfort levels.
With your hands rested under your elbows, relax the shoulders and try engaging in various activities. You’re bound to discover that tasks like typing with hands at a higher height than the elbows tends to put strain on your shoulders.
c. Tweak the Monitor
As a rule of thumb, 1/3 of the monitor’s top needs to be at eye level. This ergonomic practice is important since it massively helps your gaze. If you can access an adjustable monitor, even better. If you can’t, seek a thick book and adjust the levels to ease neck strain complications.
Have your Posterior All the Way Back While seated
Your behind needs to be positioned all the way back of the chair to achieve a decent sitting posture. Doing so helps ensure that you’re able to maintain the same sitting position over longer periods. This is because the alignment maximizes chair contact and provides an avenue for the back muscles to relax.
If your chair is movable, seek to have a lock with a lock to prevent the back and forth swinging. The stationary motion thanks to the lock will go a long way to have your posterior region and shoulders well-aligned.
Always try to be alert about bad sitting postures. This means that you’ll have to train yourself to take note of all the occasions when your back starts to become hunched. Once this practice develops into a habit, you’ll find yourself constantly straightening up your back and moving about. For every time that you slide your butt forward, you’ll have a built-in reminder to auto-adjust your posture.
A strong core is important since it ensures that your muscles don’t easily get tired. If your core is weak, you’re more likely to assume a hunched position every once in a while.
Core strengthening doesn’t necessarily have to be a rigorous activity you undertake in the gym. You can dedicate a couple of minutes before bed to working out using planks or any other activity that engages your core. The onus is on you to find what works for you.
As alluded earlier, sitting over extended periods of time is not healthy. To counter this, it’s recommended to have a timer that reminds you on when to get up and about. Movement is a great way to stretch your muscles and provides you with ample time to review your surroundings. Importantly, these stretching exercises don’t have to be to far off places. A little detour to a friend’s office or the photocopier is just as effective as any other trip.