Having poor posture can have a very negative impact on your joint health. It's important to stand and sit in the correct positions so that you don't put undue strain on muscles, ligaments and joints.
It's also important not to remain in one position for too long. Regularly moving throughout the day is good for your health.
Are you sitting comfortably?
If you have a desk-based job, it's important to have your desk, screen, chair and any other equipment set up correctly at the right height and position for you. Ask your employer for a work station assessment. These can also be called display screen equipment assessments. Foot rests and back supports can help.
Here are some general tips about how to position yourself properly:
Start with your arms. Your upper arms need to be parallel with your body and your lower arms need to be at roughly right angles to your upper arms so that they're facing straight ahead. Relax your shoulders.
Don't lean on or 'through' your desk, or a wrist mat, when you work. Sometimes and if used incorrectly, wrist mats can do more harm than good if you lean on them as this puts strain on joints.
Your head needs to be balanced, and not leaning forward. Don't have your head jutting out, so avoid having a 'poking out chin' or leaning into your screen.
A good way to judge whether your head is correctly aligned over your body is to make sure that your ears are over your shoulders.
Legs and feet
Your feet should ideally be flat on the floor. If your feet don't reach the floor when you're sitting, you should have a foot rest. Your feet shouldn't be behind your knees.
It's very important that your knees are lower than your hips. There needs to be space to fit two to three fingers at the back of the knees and your chair. Don't sit with your legs crossed.
Sit back in your chair so that your back, and in particular your lower back, is well supported. If you need one, ask for a lumbar support.
Try to keep warm, as when you are cold your body naturally tenses up and this can put stress on joints such as your neck, shoulders and back.
Using office equipment
Here are some tips on setting up your work station:
- Have your telephone, keyboard, mouse and any other equipment within your arm span so that you don't have to stretch to use them.
- Your computer screen should be roughly an arm's length away from you. The top of the screen should be at eye level.
- When you're typing, your hands should 'hover' above the desk and your keyboard.
- Never talk with your phone rested between your shoulder and your ear.
If you ever feel aches or pains as you're working, take this as an immediate sign that there's probably something wrong with your posture.
Remember not to sit still for too long. Regular walks and stretches can do you the world of good. Think of the phrases 'your best posture is your next posture' and 'motion is lotion' to remind you the importance of not sitting still for too long.