Q: My posture at work is terrible. Should I use a posture corrector or posture brace?
A: Back pain is now the second most common reason North Americans visit the doctor (after the common cold). With an estimated 80% of North Americans sitting for their work and with screen viewing averaging more than 11 hours per day (we have never been so stationary in our entire existence!), it’s no wonder that posture-related health issues are going through the roof—but no matter how much our parents have nagged us to “sit up straight”, our bodies weren’t designed to sit, they were designed to move!
Almost all previous work involved moving constantly (bending, lifting, standing, walking), so posture-related pain in the workplace is a relatively new thing. When our spine is chronically out of its natural alignment (hunching over our laptop or looking down at our phone), the muscles that support our spine become imbalanced. Some muscles atrophy while others are in constant strain. The result is pain, lack of energy flow, muscle exhaustion, headaches, bad mood, osteoporosis, a lack of balance, and even compromised immune function.
Recently there have been a plethora of products invented to remind us to get up and move, buzz us to straighten up, alert us to stretch, or brace us into a ‘neutral spine’. While these devices can give us a glimpse of correct posture, they do not fix the underlying issues—they are like bandaids, and should only be used temporarily. Here are 6 actions that you should try to habituate to make your good posture permanent:
- Learn what neutral spine is (get a C.H.E.K postural alignment assessment)
- Lengthen some of our chronically tight muscles (sign up for weekly gentle Hatha Yoga class)
- Strengthen our core and stabilizing muscles (sign up for a weekly pilates class and strengthen your back and neck muscles, not just the chest)
- Move (functional fitness and HIIT classes), and remind yourself to stand and walk whenever you are on a phone call
- Ergonomically adjust our workspace (standing desks, elevated computer screens, forearm supported keyboard)
- Build your mindfulness practice to constantly scan and readjust our body posture until it becomes habituated
Once you implement the above, you will notice your back and neck pain subsiding substantially. If you’d like to read more about the dangers of sitting, read our article, Why Sitting Is Bad For You and 5 Ways To Fix It.
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