Nary a generation has escaped childhood without being reminded to “Sit up straight,” but in this tech-heavy age of smartphone scrolling and laptop lounging, maintaining good posture is not just a classic nag, it’s essential to your health.
The New York Times recently reported that increased phone usage creates a situation the average user with her 10- to 12-pound head likely doesn’t consider: “When we bend our necks forward 60 degrees, as we do to use our phones, the effective stress on our neck increases to 60 pounds – the weight of about five gallons of paint.”
Factor in that the average office worker’s spending close to six hours a day sitting and seven hours sleeping – take note: Netflix bingeing is not included in either of these totals – and the opportunities for slouching, hunching and just plain hurtful bending become alarmingly myriad.
Straighten up with these three posture-positive tips:
Create an ergonomic workspace
If you’re unable to put together a standing desk in your cubicle, you can still adapt your office to suit your spine.
Your feet should be flat on the floor, level with your hips. Your mouse and keyboard should be at a height that allows for your wrists to move in a natural way, neither reaching down nor pushed up (get a wrist rest for some wriggle room). Your computer monitor should fall slightly below eye level. Creating a posture-positive space will make sitting up straight your default position.
Set reminders (digital and analogue!)
Program your phone, via your alarm or calendar function, to remind you to take a five-minute break once an hour, as recommended. Get up and walk around. When you sit back down, do a body scan starting with your head, down to your feet on the floor, and check that everything is aligned as it should be. If you can’t use your phone or just prefer a classic approach, put a sticky note somewhere you’re bound to look – on your office phone handset or the top right corner of your monitor – that reminds you to straighten up. Write it in black marker so it stands out.
There are many apps for that
From Apple to Android, desktop to tablet, technology has got you covered. (Oh, the irony.) Many applications are free, the higher-end ones topping out at $9.99.
For Mac users, there’s Nekoze Neko meaning “cat” and “se” meaning “back,” in Japanese – a cartoon kitty watches you from your computer’s camera and meows at you when you begin to slouch. (Why didn’t we think of this?)
Microsoft has a much-less-cute desktop app called Fix Your Posture that allows you to program it to remind you to sit up straight in 15-minute intervals. If your work computer is locked down, there are dozens of mobile options available that offer reminders, quick-hit exercise routines, and for the truly tech-inclined, a Fitbit-like belt gadget that buzzes when you slouch.
Your turn: Share your posture tips in the comment section below.