You know the feeling by now. Unclenching your jaw, you lean back in your chair and rub your temples, realizing you have just spent the last hour hunched over your computer, with your face ten inches from the screen.
We've set all sorts of sedentary milestones in 2020 and our backs have suffered greatly. We've spent less time on our feet and more time hibernating with our necks consistently angled down. Fortunately, like most habits, it's something that can be fixed with a little training and the right environment that will pay immediate dividends with noticeable positive results.
Similar to a golf swing, fixing one's posture is going to come down to two components: the set-up and the swing. The set-up is everything you can do beforehand to increase the chances of success, and the swing is what you can do to actively improve your posture in 2021.
To start, pick a chair that lets your feet plant firmly on the floor. Avoid leg crossing for long periods of time and try and keep your knees level to or above your hips. Place your back against the chair so your spine is comfortably pressed against it. If you're sitting on an uncomfortable chair for extended periods of time, fold up a towel for some added support. If your ears aren't aligned with your shoulders try moving your computer up or further away.
When it's time to break away, two active exercises (no worries, we won't actually sweat) can loosen the lumbar up. Squeezing your shoulder blades back, even while sitting, is an excellent way to keep your muscles moving. Either holding or pulsing for mini-sets will do the trick. Ready for something more advanced? Stand with your back against a wall, arms up at 90 degrees, then raise your arms up together, keeping your body against the wall. It sounds simple, but depending on how long you've been slouching, it might be a flexibility wake-up call.
As if the idea of improving your body while sitting wasn't attractive enough, the proven benefits should get those shoulder blades pumping. Proper posture decreases neck and shoulder tension so you'll be less likely to head for the heating pad before bed. Unsurprisingly, having our upper body in a more natural state, and not hunched over a piece of technology, is going to reduce tension and lead to fewer headaches if you've been reaching for Tylenol more often these days.
In addition to the immediate results that stem from straightening your back, better posture has also lead to increased energy levels (better than that third cup of coffee, right?) and improved confidence because you'll literally be standing taller. Remember standing up to take that initial phone interview and how much better you sounded with an elongated body versus slumping over? Same idea: confidence meets energy. It's a simple move that can lead to improved physical and mental health. So, lean back and stop slouching.