What is the perfect posture?
I hear this question a lot with people presenting with neck and back pain that is believed to be stemming from a poor posture. And the answer – there is no ‘perfect’ posture. In studies that compare the postures of people with and without back/shoulder/neck pain, there is no clear correlation that “poor” posture = pain.
So, what is important?
The idea of postural variation is now considered much more relevant. No matter what position we sit/stand in, our muscles are bound to get tired over time, causing pain/tightness or slipping into less than ideal positions. So if we can change to a new position before this fatigue comes on, we should reduce the likelihood of these symptoms.
The current guidelines suggest that every 30-60 minutes you should move your body in some way. This may be just a simple exercise such as a shoulder blade squeeze that you can do while remaining sitting at your desk. Every 2-3 hours however, you should move larger muscle groups by standing up, going for a walk or completing a full-body movement such as squats. Remember, the exercises or stretches you choose should be specific to you and your body.
In any position, we should aim for a neutral spine. Remember – the spine has natural curvatures (like an ‘S-shape’), and it requires less muscle work to maintain this position. So, while there is no ‘perfect’ posture, you should still be aware of what your body is doing and work to maintain this neutral spine for the majority of your day, no matter your position.
A simple exercise I like to do while sitting is some pelvic tilting movements (tucking tail bone under to press lower back into chair, then reversing this until you are sitting tall on your tail bone). After a few repetitions, I then find the middle ground between these two movements – this is your neutral spine!
What about ergonomic setup?
When it comes to ergonomic set up, it is important that your chair, desk height etc. is adjustable to allow for these variations in your posture. For example, when it is time to stand up, an adjustable standing desk can be raised to the appropriate height to avoid any straining in this position. Other useful ways to create variation in your posture is sitting for part of the day on a Swiss ball. The instability of the Swiss ball encourages a bit more movement of the hips and legs more regularly to stay upright.
Think less about this perfectly rigid posture that the Queen would be impressed by, and more about incorporating more movement into your day!
If you have any questions about this or would like some specific advice about how you can vary your posture, then get in contact with the clinic about our special ‘Work from Home’ package that will be perfect for you!