If you regularly find yourself sitting at your desk like a shrimp (you know: shoulders hunched over, spine with more curve than fusilli pasta) then you’ve probably wondered what that’s doing to your posture – and, more importantly, how you can fix it.
Instead of rushing to Dr. Google for all the "answers," take heed of this advice from physiotherapist Lyndsay Hirst – a physiotherapist with over 20 years of experience and founder at YourPilatesPhysio.com.
What causes bad posture?
A "lack of movement" is often the cause of posture issues, according to Hirst. "A lot of us lead sedentary lifestyles; sitting at a computer all day then spending the evening in front of the TV," she says. "This creates a tendency to flex the spine without much movement, which can weaken the back chain of muscles that can start to cause pain. It can also create a stooping of the spine or rounding of the shoulders."
Can you fix bad posture?
Put simply, yes, but the solution isn’t to sit bolt-upright at all times. That’s because "if we continue to stay in a flexed position we weaken the back muscles, increase the pressure on our intervertebral discs and leave ourselves open to a whole host of pain problems."
Do posture correctors work?
Firstly, don’t splash out on gimmicks that promise to fix your posture overnight. "Our bodies are designed to move, we need to keep our muscles strong – wearing braces often inhibits the muscles from working correctly, causing longer-term problems," explains Hirst.
Instead of whacking on a back brace and hoping for the best, Hirst advises adding as much movement into your day as possible. "Take regular breaks to move around [and] switch between a standing desk and a seat to create varied movement," she says, adding that small changes like walking around the office regularly and taking the stairs rather than the lift can become healthy habits.
And on the topic of posture at the office (or your WFH setup), make sure your equipment is aligned just right – that means keeping your computer screen at eye level so that your head doesn’t tilt and placing your keyboard and mouse in line with your elbows. "You could try placing a rolled up towel in the small of your back [to reduce the curve of your spine when sitting]," adds Hirst. "This will allow the rest of the spine to extend too."
Hirst also recommends practicing pilates or yoga. "One of my favorites is the cobra stretch," she tells us. "Lie on your tummy with your hands either side of your head. Keep your legs and pelvis on the floor as you push your head and chest away from the ground. This is a lovely spinal extension stretch that will counteract the flexed posture you might be in all day."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.
READ MORE ABOUT FIXING YOUR POSTURE:
In Case You're Curious, This Is How You Maintain Good Posture Every Time
5 Easy Moves To Strengthen Your Back And Improve Your Posture
Pinays Share Tips On How To Deal With Back Pain Due To Your WFH Setup