Office workers, freelancers, and students (to name a few) spend the vast majority of their days in front of a computer. But what are the physical repercussions? According to a study conducted by researchers at Boston University, other than eyestrain, 50% of university students said they experience neck and back pains. In most cases, being hunched over a computer is to blame.
The human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Actually, the seated position is one completely invented by modern human beings, a chair is something that just doesn’t exist in the natural world. Our bodies are actually built to be on the move.
Prehistoric humans relied on mobility as part of their survival tactics in hunting and protection. The physical lives we live today are a far cry from how humanity once existed. Most of our time is spent indoors and the majority of work we do requires much less physical labor.
The Cornell University Department of Ergonomics explains that up to 90% more pressure is put on your back when you are seated compared to when you’re standing.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time alone can lead to back problems, but paired with bad posture can lead to irreversible spine damage. Now, this isn’t to say that you should stop sitting all together, that’d be nearly impossible and honestly pretty tiring for the average person. Actually the negative effects of sitting down don’t start showing themselves immediately but rather overtime. The stress build up can eventually lead to anatomical changes in your spine that can cause severe pain due to constriction of nerves and blood vessels. The pain can concentrate on the neck and back, but could also radiate into the extremities, which can cause discomfort even to the legs and arms.
So instead of installing standing desks wherever we work and panicking when we need to sit down in our cars or on the subway here are some common posture mistakes that we can simply avoid:
Having bad posture does not only cause back problems. Many experts have shared other effects of bad posture on your health:
When bad posture becomes a habit it becomes increasingly more difficult to re-teach our bodies how to sit correctly. There are two important things we can do to help minimize, or even eliminate, the effects of having bad posture. Firstly, if you can, minimize the amount of time you spend on your devices. The nature of our computers and phones cause us to slouch over them and if you can cut out your usage you will ultimately cut out the time you spend slumped over. Secondly, we can practice the ideal way of sitting down to lessen the chances of a sore back. As cutting out computer usage may be impossible for some who work a desk job this alternative is suited for everyone, and even if you’re cutting down your usage as well you can try this out.
Here are some easy ways to sit correctly:
Being aware is one of the most important things when it comes to bad posture. If you’re slumped over your computer, focused on a deadline, it may be easy to forget that you’re slowly morphing into Quasimodo. If you need to set reminders for yourself do so. A message that pops up on your screen every 30 minutes of the day to remind you to sit up straight. It’s a small effort for a huge gain. Maintaining a strong tech/life balance is key, and as helpful as our computers and smartphones are in getting work done we need to remain aware of the physical toll they can often take if we’re not paying attention.