How Do I Fix My Keyboard Warrior Posture
Postural issues from our modern sedentary lives leave many adults with a hunched, closed posture, dysfunctional movement patterns that predispose injury, and aches and pains that could be prevented with the implementation of some new habits and preventative exercises.
WHAT ARE THE POSTURAL EFFECTS OF PROLONGED SITTING WITH POOR POSTURE?
Prolonged sitting in unfavourable postures is associated with the following postural issues:
– Forward slumping rounded shoulders as per the pic at the top of this post.
– Increased Thoracic (upper back curvature). The classic hunchback posture. This starts off as merely a bad habit but as years turn to decades, this hunched posture can irreversibly change the shape of your vertebrae fixing you into carrying varying degrees of this position indefinately.
– Tight Hamstrings (the back of your thighs), can you touch your toes with legs straight? If not chances are your hamstrings are on the tight side of the spectrum.
– Tight Hip Flexors (the muscles at the front of the hips). Tightness here is also associated with a lordotic lumbar curvature (see pic).
– Weak and inactive glutes – your bum muscles are supposed to be the strongest muscles in the body….. but with prolonged sitting and inactivity they are often reduced to a weak, quivering, flat mass that your body has trouble activating instead of being the powerhouse which takes the load off your back and knees.
If you started sitting up a little straighter reading the first part of this post, you’re not alone. Most adults in the modern world will have a couple of the postural issues I mentioned above.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT YOUR DESK PATROL POSTURE?
It’s far easier to avoid a postural imbalance than to correct one……… and if it’s already there it’s important you’re not taking 2 steps forward and 2 steps back while you try and fix it! So improve it by doing the following:
1) Make Good Posture a Habit
Good posture is a habit that needs to be practiced and practiced and practiced until it becomes automatic!
When you’re sitting, sit tall, draw your shoulders back and down and hold tension in your deep midline muscles. Do the same when standing and also squeeze your butt (20% max contraction is enough in the glutes and midline muscles to maintain pelvic and lower back posture when standing and walking).
2) Standing Up and get Moving!
Stand up work stations are a great idea though I will point out that good standing posture is still required to reap the benefits.
If this isn’t an option for you, make sure you are sitting well (see point 1) and taking regular breaks to stand up and walk around (standing up and walking every 15 minutes is a good start point and a daily walking habit of any kind makes a big difference). Walking is excellent as it opens up the hips and shoulders and promotes warmth and blood flow throughout your body.
3) Regularly do the following which are also tools to correct the desk patrol slump.
Firstly, I do need to point out that completely correcting postural issues may not be possible for all people. It will depend on the extent of the problem, how long the postural issues have been there, and to what extent the bones and soft tissues have changed structure to accommodate these postures. At worst we can stop or slow the rate at which the posture is deteriorating but in most cases we can expect some improvement of your desk patrol posture through:
1) Lengthening the Hamstrings (back of leg) and Hip Flexors (front of hip): These muscles respond well to an intensive weekly stretching session to improve range of motion (such as the mobility series on the board at Ignite) and a brief daily stretch to ensure you’re maintaining the range of motion you already have (pic of hamstring stretch + pic of hip flexor stretch).
2) Strengthening Glutes. This means learning to deadlift, squat, lunge, step ups and making friends with the GHD machine and doing varying combinations of these exercises regularly. From a health and longevity point of view having strong, active glutes leads to a happy, healthy back and also healthy knees as the decades tick by.
3) Lengthening the muscles of the chest and front of arms: These muscles also respond well to an intensive weekly stretching session to improve range of motion (such as the mobility series on the board at Ignite) and a brief daily stretch to ensure you’re maintaining the range of motion you already have (pic of doorway pec stretch).
4) Strengthening the upper back and the shoulder external rotators: These muscles pull the shoulders back and are an integral part of improving the posture of the shoulder girdle. This means rowing movements in your strength sessions and incorporating shoulder external rotation exercises that you might have previously only associated with shoulder rehab.
* For some people, particularly a lot of self taught young men, reducing upper body pressing to maintenance levels, or stopping altogether in some cases may also assist in restoring muscular balance across the shoulder girdle.
5) As with the glutes, prolonged sitting also weakens the postural muscles of our torso often referred to as our ‘core’. Hollow Body Tuck Holds, Sorenson Holds and Side Prones are great start points for most people in beginning to restore torso strength and endurance.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
- Poor posture can be prevented far more easily than it can be corrected though the latter is still possible with the following
- Make good posture a habit, whether you’re sitting or standing, make an effort to do it well.
- Walk and move often (every 15mins at work and a more extended walk built into your day is also recommended).
- With a structured exercise program (such as those at Ignite) work towards strengthening your glutes, upper back and shoulder external rotators anywhere from 2-6 times per week.
- On top of the above, daily hip flexor, hamstring and pec stretch with an intensive weekly intensive stretch (such as those on the board at Ignite) on these areas can stop and reverse worsening postural issues