Ergonomics: Posture and Efficiency

Posted on Posted in Ergonomics

Efficient posture is an important component of keeping your body pain-free and functioning correctly. But first and foremost,

Rule #1: Your body needs to move! Holding any one position too long can become tiring and lead to fatigue and/or pain. Whether you are sitting, standing, or even lying down, keep changing it up. And secondly,

Rule #2: Everyone is different! What works for you works for you – we can give you ideas about more efficient methods, but it ultimately comes down to what suits your body.

That being said, let’s look at how your posture can be improved.

Sitting

Let us assume that you are working on a computer. What would efficient posture look like?

  1. Feet should be flat on the floor or on a lightly angled foot-rest
  2. Your back should be against the back-rest of your chair (back-rest at a roughly 5-10 degree backward angle) with the lower back fully supported – if it isn’t, get a lumbar support cushion (or a new chair)
  3. Elbows and/or forearms should be supported so that your upper arms are close to your sides and your shoulders are relaxed (even while typing)
  4. The screen should be at a height where the top line on screen is in line with your eyes
  5. Take frequent mini-breaks to stand up and/or walk around for a bit –  stand up when you’re on the phone, walk outside when you need to think, or just set an alarm if you have to.

Standing

Let us assume that your are speaking with a colleague. What would efficient posture look like?

  1. Feet should flat on the floor with weight evenly distributed – if you tend to shift your weight side-to-side, try to do it equally both sides
  2. Keep your knees locked – unlock them sporadically for variety
  3. Try to keep your lower back arch fairly neutral (i.e. not over-arched) – occasionally suck your stomach in and squeeze your glutes for a few seconds for variety
  4. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your chest up – lift your chest higher and pull your shoulders back and downwards for a few seconds for variety
  5. Keep your head and neck neutral (not poking forward) by “thinking tall” or trying to “touch the ceiling” with the top of your head – this works well with lifting your chest at the same time.

Lying

Let’s assume that we’re talking about sleeping. What would an efficient posture look like?

  1. Generally don’t choose a position that aggravates or puts pressure on a painful area e.g. if you right shoulder is painful, don’t sleep on that side.
  2. Try not to bend your arms and/or legs too tightly – it can put excessive pressure on the joints, muscles and nerves.
  3. Lying on your stomach (“prone” position) is generally discouraged especially if you have neck or lower back issues – it puts a lot of pressure on those areas.
  4. When lying on your back (“supine” position) we recommend a pillow that provides support to the neck without pushing the head forward and possibly a pillow or two under the knees (to take pressure off the lower back).
  5. When lying on your side (“lateral recumbent” position) we recommend a pillow that provides support to the neck without pushing the head upward i.e. your neck and spine should be reasonably straight – a pillow or two between the knees is recommended if you have hip or back issues.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to consult your chiropractor.

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