As a practitioner I have come to the realization that keeping “perfect” posture throughout the workday is physically and mentally exhausting for most people. Your musculoskeletal system (the system that keeps you moving) is constantly working to keep your posture and alignment—this exhaust the system just like a workout would. This is why rest is a key component to ensure the performance of your postural musculature. Frequent, consistent, and properly prescribed micro-breaks decrease the risk of injury and improve the health and quality of your life.
When you are at work your brain is constantly active, assessing your surroundings and counter-acting gravity. When your posture is compromised gravity takes control and exerts pressure on your spine and in turn taxes your muscles and nervous system; causing aches and pains. Over time this systemic pressure causes repetitive stress/cumulative trauma injuries that show up as reduced range of motion, arthritis, disc degeneration and a accumulation of scar tissue.
Numerous studies have shown that prolonged sitting, poor posture, and inactivity throughout the day lead to a plethora of cardiovascular, emotional, and physical ailments. A recent study found that forward head posture (bad neck posture) over time increase the likelihood of needing assistance with normal activities of daily living by DOUBLE (Kamitani K, et. Al). *activities of daily living are simple tasks like getting out of a chair, or using the bathroom
The good news is that you can restore your posture by doing simple daily tasks that don’t require you to sit like a robot!
- Shrug shoulders to ear, pinch shoulders back and return to starting position. Repeat this in a circular fashion 10-15 times as one micro-break.
- With palms facing forward put both hands up and to your side 6” from your ears and reach to the sky. Bring arms all the way back down as if pinching a penny in between your shoulder blades. Repeat this motion 10-15 times. (a rotation to either side with arms above your head is a great addition to this exercise) *this is like making standing snow angels with your elbows bent
- Find a doorway that you can stretch in. Face doorway and place forearm and upper arm in a “L” shape against side of doorway and step forward. You should feel a stretch in your chest on the same side of the arm in the doorway. Repeat on the other side for a total of 5 times each side with a 10 second hold.
- Hinging at your hips is crucial in lifting, moving, and preventing low back pain. Find a wall and stand about 6 inches away so if you bend over your butt slightly touches the wall. Bend your knees slightly and bring both arms above your head shoulder width apart. THE CRUCIAL PART of this movement is hinging directly at your hip, keeping your low back neutral; this means no rounding of your back while flexing forward. Hinge forward at your hips (slowly) until your butt hits the wall and come back up. This movement is advanced and does take time to master—practice, practice, and then practice some more.
- With arms extended in front of you, clench your fists then slowly open your hands and extend your fingers as much as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times)
Eyes- these are often neglected!
- Close your eyes tightly for 1 seconds then open them as wide as possible for 1 second (repeat 10 times) then focus on an object 15 feet away from you after completing your sets
*Each micro-break should be performed for 30sec. to 1 minute. Pick a different one to do every 30 minutes throughout the day. Remember this is just a short list and there are hundreds of options and ways to keep moving while at work.
I also recommend that you get up as often as you can throughout the day and walk, stand or just move!
- Stand while you are on a phone call
- Find a bathroom that isn’t the closest to you and walk to that one when you need to go
- Have a work “buddy” that holds you accountable to taking micro-breaks—when you go for a walk, tap them on the shoulder on your way back and tell them “it’s your turn” or do the stretches together!
- Create an excel, group chat, or event google+ hangout that keeps you and other co-workers accountable and can track your progress or compliance.