By Shaan Khan
A bad posture isn’t formed in a few days; it happens over time. Neither is there a quick fix to the issue. Similarly, people who go to the gym to lose weight find themselves making no progress because they continue to consume drastically more calories than what they burn at the gym.
A pragmatic solution starts at home and tackles our detrimental passive lifestyles. As poor diets contribute to body fat build-up over time; the positioning of our bodies for different daily tasks will shape our overall posture. Any forced change of the body’s general alignment will create discomfort and potential damage due to the muscles & ligaments’ newfound reliance on the posture that was trained over time—so success can’t be rushed.
Modern lifestyles lead us to spend more time harming our postures than promoting their natural function. This is what we need to target for change, to spend more time improving our body’s alignment—it’s like a calorie deficit but for postures.
You only need to make slight adjustments to how you carry out daily tasks to eventually shift the pendulum where your body becomes trained to the healthier & natural posture it was designed for. Understandably, people are short on time, making it difficult dedicating hour-long exercises to improve their body alignment. So these positions & movements will be conveniently integrated into your daily tasks and less exhaustive than a gym workout.
The Morning Stretches
One of the most common calls of nature almost all mammals can relate to is the morning stretch. Mostly out of pure subconsciousness, we awaken with a yawn and one big stretch movement. It might last only a few seconds, but its evolutionary significance is to get our bodies loosened up for the day to prevent injuries.
While our instinct tells us morning stretches are good, we ourselves take them for granted. The subconscious stretch should transition into a conscious one—incorporating non-strenuous move sets for a minimum of five minutes.
Not only will the morning stretches train your muscles within that time span, but they encourage you to be conscientious of upholding correct posture throughout the day.
Morning stretches are a psychological solution to the most significant issue of posture deuteriation. People simply forget about their body alignment with all their daily distractions—it’s something easily forgotten and morning stretches are a great reminder.
I would recommend the following morning stretches:
- Child’s pose
- Forward fold
- High Plank
- Cat Cow
- Side Plank
- Downward-facing dog
The main culprit behind humanities weakening postures are the stationary workspaces of the modern-day—where the majority of our time is spent seated behind a desk.
Desk-based jobs present an exhausted list of health issues, such as stiffening joints, poor blood circulation and weakened muscles. The posture issue is caused by the habit of arching our spines forward while seated. We typically commit to this unhealthy habit for one key reason—many desk setups lead people to arch their backs forward because their laptop screens, textbooks or notepads are below eye level.
While a lot of productivity at a desk needs us to gaze below eye level such as writing in a notebook, there are some productive tasks such as laptop work where we can avoid using this detrimental positioning to reduce the time we spend harming our postures.
Stand & Work
As I listed all the adverse effects of long-term sitting at a desk, long-term standing while working corrects all these problems, including posture.
It’s very easy to get too relaxed and slump your spine in a comfy chair, but if you’re standing, you lose out on the comfortability and slumping feels odd. With time, you build up the body strength to stand firm for long durations while you work.
The stand & work movement is growing in work culture, with an ever-expanding market of height-adjustable desks. At the switch of a remote, a motor can raise your desk to the height you want—from sitting to standing.
If you plan on joining the stand & work movement, make sure you raise your desk to a level where you don’t need to arch your back that often.
There are ways to improve how you sit and work behind a desk for posture correction by using the following methods:
- Stands for work items – Whether makeshift DIY or from an e-commerce website such as Amazon or Etsy, stands raise your laptop or books on your desk and view the items at eye level so you don’t arch your back forward.
- Adjustable ergonomic chair – Get a height-adjustable chair to bring you at eye-level with your work items. Ergonomic chairs are useful because the seat is ideally shaped for your back to rest in the correct alignment.
- A larger screen – If you use a laptop and are happy with the keyboard’s position, but unsatisfied with gazing low at the screen, it would be good to invest in a monitor or tv to place on your desk or wall that you can connect to your laptop. The additional large screen should be eye-level while your laptop keyboard remains in the same position.
- Lenses – Eye-level with your work items might not be the issue. You could be arching your back forward because the text on your computer screen might be too blurry. Consider getting your eyes checked at the opticians to determine if you need prescription lenses.
Dining courtesy feels like a relic from the past that should never have been culturally abandoned. The modern dining experience is progressively anti-social and harmful to our postures. A key cause is smartphone addiction, where our devices psychologically feel chained to our wrists.
People will sit at a dinner table then immediately place their phones down by their plate and multitask eating while browsing their devices. This habit keeps individuals locked into an arched posture throughout eating while finding zero need to look straight.
It should only be acceptable to look down at your plate to judge what part of your food you want to pin to your cutlery and place in your mouth. The rest of the time should be engaging with family or friends around you at eye level—it’s good for your back and relationships!
If you’re eating alone but really want to consume some content on a device to escape your thoughts, then consider using a monitor or tv to watch while eating since at least the screens will be eye-level.
It’s possible to mirror your smartphone’s screen onto a monitor or TV then actively use your smartphone as a remote control to navigate the content on the big screen without looking down.
The same principle of posture correction applies to when you’re seated anywhere for long periods of time. This can include being seated on a toilet or waiting in the seating area at a GP for an appointment. If you have nothing around you but your phone, at least try to hold your phone at eye level and not by your thighs/knees.
This segment of your day might not be detrimental if it consists of athletic activities or gym workouts. But if you fall into the sedentary bracket of leisure such as watching Netflix, gaming, crafting or building Lego—you could likely be at risk of harming your posture.
Just because your leisure time might put you at risk of harming your posture, it doesn’t mean you should abandon what you like to do or reduce your engagement time. Instead, it’s about your body’s position throughout your leisure time.
- Lying flat on your stomach with your elbows raising your upper body off the ground is an excellent position to avoid you slouching while you engage in any of the sedentary activities I had mentioned. You will still be able to operate your hands and arms in this position. Still, it might get uncomfortable over a long period of time, so it’s best used in combination with other healthy positions for leisure time.
Supported Staff Pose
- Instead of being seated on a couch, sit on the floor with your back resting on a couch or wall with a pillow in between for cushioning. Make sure your torso is raised tall in this position with your legs at full extension.
Supported Hero’s Pose
- This pose can be performed on a couch. You get seated on your knees and place a pillow between your glutes and feet for cushioning. Your lower body then provides you with the stability to sit upright. The pose is more fitting for content consumption instead of creative tasks.
The positions mentioned are not intrusive to the point they create enough discomfort to where you can’t enjoy your leisure time. However, it’s advised to switch between positions, as long as you spend most of your time in a favourable position for your posture opposed to a negative slumped one that’s common with these sedentary activities.
Leisure time can be long, taking up hours of people’s days. It’s good to find breaks where you commit to a light exercise such as a plank while watching TV. Incorporating light exercises with these healthy posture positions I recommended will only increase the speed of correcting your body’s alignment.
Home exercises also promote good mental training. You become more dedicated to your goal and progression of posture correction by increasingly stressing your body and overcoming the limits you set upon your own abilities out of fear.
A good home exercise great for posture is pull-ups, and there are cheap yet reliable pull-up bars you can find on Amazon that can be attached to any door frame without creating any damage to you or the surrounding environment.