As a Chiropractor in Saskatoon, one of the most common questions I receive is, how can I improve my posture while sitting at my desk?
Many factors contribute to proper posture when sitting at a desk. Most commonly discussed are the strength and mobility of your neck and mid-back along with the ergonomics of how your desk is set up. While these all play a very important role in limiting the development of low back pain, or neck pain while sitting, they still do not answer the question, “What is the best posture?”
“What is the best posture?” is a trick question. It is not a static position, but rather the best posture is to move around and frequently change positions to allow your body a chance to reset.
“Perfect posture” is typically described as sitting up straight, with your shoulders pulled back and your head tall. The problem is, if you are sitting in “perfect posture” for 8 hours a day, there is a pretty good chance you will still feel low back pain or neck pain by the end of it. The reality is that even in “perfect posture” the body does not tolerate being immobile for long.
A truly perfect posture cannot be static, instead, we need a more dynamic strategy. Performing exercises to build strength and increase mobility is essential to helping your body tolerate extended periods of static sitting, however, the key to feeling better at the end of a long workday is simply getting up and moving around.
Hierarchy of Posture
I often talk about a “hierarchy” of posture.
1. Best - Dynamic Posture
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day to stand up and move.
- Movement encourages fluid movement within our joints, which transfers nutrients to the bones. This keeps our bones healthy!
2. Fair - Prolonged Good Posture
- If you’re not and move throughout the day, a tall posture is better than a slumped posture.
- This may be the case during a flight or a long drive.
- Consider taking a rolled-up towel and placing it along your low back just above your belt line.
3. Worst - Prolonged Poor Posture
- Avoid this posture as much as possible for extended periods of time!
- Poor posture stretches our ligaments and tendon. If they stay stretched for a prolonged time, it can eventually lead to injury.
When is Posture Important?
Although a dynamic posture is the most ideal posture throughout the day, there are 2 circumstances where having good posture is ideal.
1. Weight Lifting
- This is more so commonly referred to as having a proper form for your lift.
- Proper form will ensure that your bones, muscles, and joints are sharing the load equally.
- The equal sharing of forces will reduce your risk for injury.
2. Long Drives or Flights
- Poor posture is notorious for stressing and stretching our ligaments and tendons.
- Our ligaments have an elastic nature to them, and if elastic materials are stretched for too long, a phenomenon called “creep” can occur.
- “Creep” is not referring to your weird neighbor. Creep is when something elastic is stretched too far, for too long, that it begins to lose its elastic properties.
- Creep of ligaments can result in joint laxity.
Good “dynamic posture” does not require long breaks throughout the day that disrupt your workflow. Instead, we recommend performing “microbreaks” throughout the workday. This may include incorporating simple neck stretches every 20-30 minutes or taking a posture break. These microbreaks are designed to take place every hour or so, for only 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. I recommend setting an alarm to remind you to get up and move around once every 20-30 minutes.
A simple posture reset is the most powerful tool you can use against the pain that begins after a long day of desk work. Watch the video below for a great example of a micro-break.
If you can’t seem to shake the low back pain or neck pain you develop while sitting for long periods of time, schedule an appointment! E3 Chiropractic + Wellness can provide anyone in Saskatoon with further strategies to help you work pain-free!