This is an exceptionally written guest post by Daniel Lord, D.C. of Practice Posture and the Facebook Health Center. Enjoy!
This post is an update from a earlier post I wrote about leaning back in your chair. This lean is unconventional – but a valid strategy for good posture. Sitting up straight at your desk is a simple rule that you, along with most other tech pros, totally fail at. After only a short time working, the overwhelming effect of gravity pulls you down into a familiar position: the dreaded slouch. This slouched posture stresses your lower back, rounds your shoulders, extends your neck, and causes all sorts of pain. This is no secret…you are aware of how bad slouching is. The problem is that slouching becomes almost impossible to prevent during an extended amount of time in static positions. Even if you have “fancy” equipment like a ball-chair it won’t prevent you from bad positions.
Here is the trick: you don’t have to sit at a perfect 90-degree angle to have good posture. You are free to move back and forth in your chair as long as you hinge from your hips and keep your back straight. Let me explain…
Humans evolved hinging from their hips to generate power and endurance. This is why your gluteal muscles are the largest and most powerful in your body. This same “paleo” position protects the spine and decreases stress during heavy lifting. Dr. Stewart McGill, the leading spine researcher in the world, adds that “the ability of the athlete to train hip motion with a stiffened core is paramount for enhancing performance…Thus, the fundamental movement pattern we call the “hip hinge” is needed.” Sitting for long hours is an athletic endeavor; it requires a great deal of core strength and endurance to avoid poor positions. To avoid fatigue and distribute postural stress you need to learn techniques that recruit your powerful gluteal muscles and allow freedom to move – hip hinging at your computer is a key strategy for working pain free.
Unfortunately, the foundation of ergonomics is centered around standardized workstation measurements instead of healthy human movement. This dated perspective is full of dogmatic regulations and has got to change. Look at this dude below…can anyone really sit like this all day???
If you examine data from developing countries you will see a lower incidence of lower back and neck pain compared to places where people sit all day. I observed this same trend when I traveled to Madagascar and worked as a volunteer providing healthcare to underserved populations. Their physical ailments came from real traumas versus the repetitive stress epidemic we have in the west. Why, you ask? Check out the picture below and notice the powerful stance these workers have. They are masters at hinging and keeping their backs flat…essentially doing a perfect deadlift with any bending and lifting. They work through long hours of manual labor all day and still have nowhere near the back pain we do!
So…how do we apply this strategy to our days at the keyboard?
Paleo posture uses a wider range of movement and motion to decrease static postures. Instead of only sitting up straight frequently spend time hinged forward or back in your chair and change positions to prevent the dreaded slouch.
An easy tip to ensure you are keeping your spine straight is by using the “2 hand rule.” Place one hand at the bottom of your sternum and the other at the top of your pelvis. If you are hinging correctly, the distance between your hands should never change. To integrate your paleo posture practice with a Lumo Lift, align your Lift post hinge to reset your baseline. Simply tap your Lumo 2x once your are in position. Then track you paleo posture with the Lift mobile app. Go ahead…lean back in your chair…or lean forward and get dialed in.
Daniel has been teaching about posture and performance as well as consulted companies in the Bay Area on ergonomics for the past 5 years with his wellness team at Practice Posture. He combines the best practices from both professional sports as well as high level corporate wellness to deliver the most cutting edge approaches to physical health and wellness. Daniel works as the physical medicine lead for the Facebook Health Center with the integrated primary care medical group Crossover Health. He manages the physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic services at Facebook HQ. He also was in charge of Oracle Team USA’s sports medicine program during their campaign to win the 34th America’s Cup. Learn more at practiceposture.com