If you had a dollar for every advertisement you’ve come across for something to give you the perfect posture, you would probably have a nice chunk of money. The perfect program, perfect exercise, the new and improved back brace to improve your sitting posture; these are all things that are commonly promoted nowadays as posture seems to be all the rave. Truth is that perfect posture doesn’t exist! With the amount of sitting that we are accustomed to today, many people are suffering from neck, shoulder and/or back pain which they attribute to their time in front of the computer. With all those emails and zoom calls to participate in, prolonged sitting for work has become extremely common. If you tried to sit up straight with perfect posture, chances are it won’t be very long until you are uncomfortable. There is no perfect posture or one correct way to sit, the key is MOVEMENT.
As humans, we are meant to move. We aren’t meant to be sitting in front of a screen all day stuffing our faces with comfort foods or getting stressed from the volume of emails to respond to. We are meant to move. Therefore, when sitting throughout your workday, don’t worry about having to maintain perfect posture, just be aware of how long you are in one position. It is OK to slouch, just don’t stay in that slouched position for hours. Sit up straight, lean to the right, slouch a bit, lean to the left, get up and walk, get up and do stretches, just MOVE. We like to say, “your best posture is your next posture”. If we focus on avoiding prolonged positions and increasing the frequency of movement, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of pain/limitations created from sitting all day.
Of course, there are exercises you can do to strengthen some of the musculature required for “good” posture. It takes more muscle activation than you think to simply sit up straight, especially if you don’t have good back/lumbar support. We want these muscles to work, which is a main reason why a “posture brace” is a terrible idea. Especially for the healthy individuals who are unfortunately stuck at a desk all day. You’d be surprised how many of my young friends in their 20s have reached out to me to ask if they should get a brace. When you wear a brace to help you sit up straight, you are assisting the muscles that normally would be active to accomplish this task. Braces can be helpful if you are in a lot of pain or if you are recovering from an injury/surgery, but you don’t want to be reliant on a brace for good posture. If you become reliant on wearing a brace everyday for your 9-5 desk job, then these muscles will work less, and over time it will make it that much harder to sustain upright positioning without the support of your brace. Don’t be tricked by that Instagram ad, you DO NOT need a posture brace.
In summary: move more! Try to change your position frequently throughout the day and if you can, limit your sitting to no longer than 60-90 minutes at a time. Take standing/walking breaks, change up your sitting position, go for a walk while on that phone meeting, and periodically stretch when able. Here are some of my favorite exercises/stretches that can help avoid problems from prolonged sitting.