Are you a desk-jockey who feels their poor sitting posture is turning them into the resident office hunch back? I like to call this posture the “Hunchback of corporate life”, but don’t worry you are definitely not alone if you feel like this!
When you sit at a desk all day in one particular position, you may become tight, stiff and a bit stuck resulting in discomfort or even pain! Thoracic kyphosis is the correct term used to describe the corporate hunchback posture, and it is simply the forward curvature of the upper back/ thoracic spine. Sitting in any position for a prolonged period of time is bound to cause you discomfort; the discomfort comes from prolonged pressure on the joints, and the surrounding muscles turning on in an effort to hold you in a more correct or safe position. In the short-term this poor positioning results in poor posture, however with time it may cause more issues for you. But never fear! The development of a postural little hunchback or even a large hunchback is reversible with a bit of increased awareness and good old hard work! That being said though, prevention is the key people!
There are 3 components that are critical to maintaining a good posture and also to improving your poor posture, these include:
3. Correct Ergonomic Set-up
Mobility: Having good mobility or movement through your upper back (thoracic spine) reduces the stress at particular joints when sitting. In order to maintain this, upper back extension movements (e.g. leaning back over your chair) and a combination of stretching, foam rolling and also repeated movements can help! Foam rolling is a great back to extend the thoracic spine and also to just give those muscles a break with a bit of massage! Stretching out your chest, neck and shoulders can help loosen the muscles at the front which will reduce pull on your spine into the forward position.
Strength: In order for upright posture to become more natural, comfortable and easy, strength is the key. Strengthening the upper back muscles gives your spine some assistance in staying upright throughout the day. Resistance training is a great way to increase the strength and endurance of your upper back so that you don’t slip into the hunchback posture as easily as you once did. You can do this in the gym using weights and even with a little piece of theraband from your Physio. Any variation of row exercises is a great way to increase mobility and strength through your upper back e.g. low row in standing, seated row, bent over row. These exercises engage the rhomboids and lower trapezius muscles.
Correct Ergonomic Setup: Every work station should be set up specifically for the individual as everyone is a different shape and size! Imagine walking around in someone else’s shoes that were just not the right size for you all day, it would be super uncomfortable not to mention difficult to get any work done. With offices using modern collaborative work spaces, and businesses using multiple devices, it is becoming increasingly harder to maintain some consistency with ergonomics. BUT we must make the greatest effort to create a safe environment for our spines! Here at Bend + Mend we can visit your office to perform and Ergonomic Assessment and have a close look at your work-space, making quick and easy recommendations so you avoid pain at work.