Whether your job requires standing up, walking around or sitting in one place for extended hours, maintaining a good posture can save you from future health complications such as back problems and body injuries. According to 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civilian workers across the country spend an average of 61% of each workday either walking or standing and 39% of the workday sitting. However, the result between standing and sitting greatly varies depending on the type of occupation. Based on 2016 Occupational Requirements Survey, accountants, for example, required 80.7% of their work time, while waiters, on the other hand, would require 96% of the workday moving.
The women labor force in the United States is made up of 47% of the total working population, estimating over 74.6 million in 2016. In management occupation alone, human resource managers are composed of 74%, chief executives tally 27%, and IT managers have 26% of the total workforce per industry. The statistics only show that the trends in the labor market involving women have dramatically evolved for both standing and sitting jobs. These figures could also indicate a potential increase in health problems among women due to inappropriate sitting postures.
The indicative factors that affect posture
There are several job categories in the U.S. labor market that affect posture, particularly for female workers. Job positions considered as "sedentary" include insurance agents, healthcare workers, receptionists, software developers, news editors and human resource managers among others. Sad to say, all these desk-related jobs would require frequent sitting even during lunch breaks or beyond office hours. Potential posture problems that could lead to health implications may happen earlier than expected if they aren't attended properly.
Staying at your desk, sofa or school table for a long period of time is bad enough to give yourself a terrible day. If you ever felt stiff after sitting for most times, you are probably experiencing the side effects of having a bad posture. The worst part is, you'll be having a difficult time moving your upper body or focusing on performing your duties later on. This happens because of frequent slouching and other factors as listed below:
1. Poor awareness about bad posture
Office employees always seem unaware of bad posture habits when they concentrate too much on what they're doing. Fortunately for workers who move or lift objects frequently, they receive training or instructions on how to keep their backs straight unlike most desk workers. The good thing is, modern-day businesses are now encouraging workers to use back support braces or waist trainers to help them become aware when they are about to slump. This would minimize back pain that would result in better office productivity among employees.
2. Core muscle development
Strengthening the core muscles can minimize bad posture since you are able to keep your back straight for a longer period of time. Since you're sitting more often, you need to train your upper body to counteract muscle tension and shoulder curves. You can do this by performing regular weight lifting and stretching exercises before engaging once again on your desk job the following day.
3. Not paying attention to office ergonomics
People should be aware of office ergonomics in terms of chair height and body distance to the desk. If you aren't aware of how you sit, you might experience the side effects of poor posture sooner than later. Without noticing, you may be stretching your neck or seating with a curved shoulder just to make yourself comfortable. The best thing to do is to maintain a good distance between the chair and the table while keeping a 90-degree angle on your knees.
4. Insufficient break time
In many offices, white-collar workers are often unaware that they've been working for extended hours without resting. Even if they take a break, workers remain seated at their office tables, consuming their packed lunches while still performing different tasks. This poor office habit will eventually contribute to many side effects of bad posture including chronic shoulder pain and back problems.
5. Negligence on preventive measures
When dealing with frequent back pain, a lot of people often deny that having bad sitting habits or doing self-medication can be the main reason. Sitting up straight won't be good enough to prevent your body from experiencing back pain due to bad posture. A regular visit to a massage therapist or chiropractor seems helpful to reduce the negative effects of bad posture. But more than that, switching from sedentary to moderately-active lifestyle is also an excellent headstart in restoring your lost confidence.
The bad effects of bad posture
Having a good posture is something most people don't care enough until they experience the excruciating pain and numbness at their lower backs over time. Lack of adequate sleep and high-stress levels aren't the only factors that may affect your posture. But if you don't pay any attention to fix your spinal alignment, expect your body to feel these unwanted side effects:
1. Slouching can lead to difficulty in breathing
Medical experts believe that posture plays an active role in how your lungs can provide you with good breathing.
Your lung capacity, without noticing it, decreases by as much as 25% each time you slump your body. Eventually, you'll experience difficulty in concentrating, shortness of breath and even tiredness after a long day. Train yourself to breathe deeply aside from paying attention to when you're about to slump.
2. Bad sitting posture triggers acid reflux and heartburn
If you fail to sit up with your back straight, slouching can intervene with your food digestion, thus leading to heartburn and gas spasm. This would definitely result in poor work performance due to several distractions you may experience throughout the day. What you can do is to train yourself to sit straight without leaning against the back seat for 15 minutes and gradually increase it to an hour or even more. Still, the bottom line is to keep your back straight for as long as possible whether your job needs you to stand up or sit down.
3. Prolonged back pain
It isn't surprising that bad posture is one of the main reasons for severe backaches for many women. Sometimes, it serves as a health symptom which may lead to some serious health problems including hypertension, chronic heart disease, and spinal injuries. To make it worse, people just keep ignoring the back pain because they fear of discovering more serious problems than they think. However, you need to find the root problem first because back pain can only be caused by lifting heavy objects, old bed mattresses or long bus rides.
4. Triggers depression and anxiety
Sitting up straight can help reduce the risk of depression though it's not a definite solution to a mental health problem. Posture is often associated with mood swing, chronic depression and even horrible work performance, particularly on women desk employees. According to studies, a symptom of depression isn’t that visible when people practice good sitting habits. However, in contrast, slouching alone makes people lose their confidence, resulting in lower office productivity and weak decision making.
5. Triggers headache and poor mental performance
Office productivity experts explain that bad posture can be one of the many reasons why people suffer from a severe headache. When your neck is protruded, the weight it bears increases, resulting to neck and shoulder pain, then headache comes next. Desk workers who often slump their bodies will likely experience tiredness, muscle stiffness and joint pains especially if they don't take enough break.
6. Loses confidence when bad posture is not addressed
Bad posture certainly affects one's ability to express his or her emotions. If you're not assertive, business employers may think that you can handle more tasks than you actually can because you fail to decline the work with no clear explanations. When in pain, people may find it difficult to speak up for themselves, eventually losing their confidence and assertiveness.
7. Makes you recall negative comments rather than positive ones
A bad posture is a clear sign of getting discouraged, allowing you to remember the negative remarks instead of positive feedbacks. Making it worse, it could affect the overall efficiency of your mind and body. When you exert efforts to improve posture with exercise, the end results will absolutely yield more productivity at your end instead of feeling sluggish.
8. Promotes poor visual recognition
Computer and smartphone users who often spend a lot of precious time when viewing on screen may experience moderate to severe eye strain. This happens when your sitting position isn't right particularly when the monitor is not properly lined up with your eyesight. Having a bad posture will likely give you frequent incidents of eye strain or dry eyes, which may lead to migraine attacks. Since you need to look at the screen gazing downward, try adjusting the height of your chair and your viewing distance as comfortable as possible.
19 simple ways to enhance body posture
When you ignore the effects of bad sitting habits, your productivity will inevitably decrease, putting all your efforts to waste as a result. If you're not healthy enough to perform a task, that's because of the bad posture that gives you a sloppy performance and frequent absences. Here are 19 ways on what you can do to improve your posture:
- Regardless of the type of waist trainer you want, always stand straight with your shoulders pulled backwards.
- Stand with your back against a wall. Let the back of your headrest at the wall as well as your shoulders and butt.
- Keep your weight within the balls of both feet. Otherwise, your body will slouch if you rest on your heels as a possible tendency.
- Stay away from your workplace during lunch break. You can walk around the vicinity of the office or take a longer route back to the office.
- Achieve a positive mindset to transform your old habits into something meaningful. It would be better if people become aware of their postural problem before it gets worse.
- Select an appropriate office furniture that matches your build in terms of backseat width and chair height.
- Be sure not to seat almost at the end of the chair. Instead, remind yourself to push your hips back to the chair, adjust the chair height according to your knee angle that will keep your feet flat on the floor.
- When choosing strengthening exercises, try to consult a fitness trainer and explain to him that you want to develop your core muscles to prevent posture problems in the future.
- Use casual waist trainers such as everyday waist trainer if the job requires you to sit for longer duration. Choose a cotton-made waist trainer if you need to dress up professionally.
- Workout waist trainers such as Premium Latex Waist trainer are the best options if you're practicing a diet regimen or performing regular exercises either at your home or the gym.
- Opt to rest your body on a comfortable pillow or memory foams when already in pain instead of taking painkillers.
- Stay alert of your body posture and fix your body alignment using the right type of waist trainer.
- Move heavy things, whether by lifting or pushing, slowly to minimize the impact around your waist.
- Regulate the use of smartphones and tablets between one to two hours before resting your neck and back for at least 10 minutes then view the screen again when necessary. Massage the area of your shoulder blades and neck to reduce muscle soreness.
- When attending a special event, a wedding, for example, you can use the vest-style or steel-boned waist trainers to keep your body straight and still look glamorous.
- Adjust your chair height regularly since it is recommended to look at the PC screen in a slightly downward direction. To reduce the effects of blurred vision, try changing the viewing angle and display font size.
- You can put a rolled-up towel between the back seat and chair to provide more support for your lower back.
- Visit your physiotherapist or chiropractor for better advice before using a waist trainer.
- Use the chart size comparison and adapt a simple rule of thumb when selecting a waist trainer. If your waistline is below 38 inches, for instance, pick the waist trainer that's 4-7 inches smaller than your actual size.
Having an improper body posture can badly hamper your office productivity, which can even cost your job if you don't put enough efforts to enhance it. Indeed, keeping your posture in good shape will spare you from further complications such as rounded shoulders, back pain, and backbone dysfunctions later.