Life at a desk and its effect on posture

Here at Body Happy one of our main goals is to help people engage in and enjoy physical activity with a view to it being a lifelong, sustainable and positive experience. We have a great set of members at the studio and within that membership a wide range of abilities, needs and goals, all uniquely attached to the individual.

Many of our members are blessed with a great deal of life experience and share with us stories of past achievements, both sporting and vocational. This makes for fascinating and fantastic conversation with our members for us, the trainers, however many of these achievements have left a war wound or two. In our role as trainers it is hugely important that we aware of and react appropriately to these hard-earned battle scars.

An issue that we commonly encounter is a curvature of the spine and poor posture due to excessive time spent sitting down. Now this may not sound like a hard-earned war wound but I would beg to differ. If you’ve dedicated your working life to something of importance to you, requiring you to spend many hours hunched over a desk, then surely this is just as much an occupational hazard as a tree surgeon breaking a leg from falling from a tree? In fact, in the modern world we live in where working at a desk with a computer is common place, I would suggest that along with obesity (with obvious links between a sedentary life and having an unhealthy body composition) it is one of the greatest challenges facing our ability to live a pain free and active lifestyle late into our lives.

So, the big question is how do we combat the effects of being desk bound if it’s an integral part of our lives? Answer, there is no fool proof and complete remedy however there are several steps you can take to decrease the risks of one of the three most common manifestations of curvature of the spine (technically known as kyphosis, scoliosis and lordosis).

First and foremost, we can take practical steps to reduce the risks, things like ensuring we take regular breaks from sitting at the desk, get up and go for a walk at least once an hour if not more regularly. Make sure that your desk and computer is at the correct height to help maintain good posture with a neutral spine. All employers now legally must carry out a workstation risk assessment for their staff to help with this. If you feel this is missing in your place of work then more information can be found here. The information contained within the link can also be of use if you are self-employed or work remotely and want to learn how best to set up your workstation.

From an exercise perspective there are endless movements we can utilise to help remedy this issue. Some of our favourites here at Body Happy include bridges, back extensions, planks, well executed rowing movements and various hip flexor stretches. For me however, the best and easiest component to address is the position of our pelvis, or pelvic tilt. Anyone who has ever worked with me in the gym will be able to recite the following: bum tucked, chest up, shoulders down! I use these prompts with all my clients, they are the cornerstone of good form both in and out of the gym. Sounds simple right? Not always, if you’ve spent 40 years training your body to think that a hunched over position is the norm then retraining it to maintain a neutral spine can be highly challenging and at times very frustrating.

If your one of the many people suffering from posture problems for any reason, then do your best to give your body the love and support it needs by incorporating some the advice above. In essence, work hard, play hard and stay safe people.

 

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