5 Tips for Improving Ergonomics & Posture

Over time, poor posture is caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, looking at the computer, driving, standing for long periods of time, or even sleeping. Poor posture can easily become second nature and becomes the standard which can cause or exacerbate episodes of back pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are generally within our control and are not difficult to change.

Know the warning signs of back pain caused by poor ergonomics and posture.

Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week.  Have you ever noticed that after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer in increase in pain occurs, but not during the weekends. Or have you had a pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities or a pain that goes away after switching positions while sitting or standing or sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months? These are all key signs that poor ergonomics and poor posture are the key contributors to the increase in pain.

Get up and move

As muscles fatigue, slouching, slumping occur and other poor postures become more likely.  This in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back.  In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. (Such as taking a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two to five minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.)

Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing.

Distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet while standing. While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair’s features.  Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any single position, even a good one, will be tiring. Leaning forward with a straight back can alternate with sitting back, using the back support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles. Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward or tilting the head.

Increase awareness of posture and ergonomics in everyday settings.

It is important to also be aware of posture and ergonomics at work, at home, and at play.  This is when you need to instil good posture and ergonomic techniques. This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of the pain.

Use exercise to help prevent injury and promote good posture.

Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, and cycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. Exercise promotes good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury. Did you know your back muscles about 30% stronger than abdominal muscles? This is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture at all times.  An individualised strength and stability program is essential to decreasing back pain and allow you to participate in activities you enjoy, living life to the fullest.

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