Why is moving through life with good posture so hard? Why are we so prone to schlumping on the couch?
Perhaps modern life is just too convenient. All of that comfort comes at the price of our posture.
But if posture really does affect emotions (and all science says YES!), then paying attention to how we carry out our everyday activities is worth some effort.
Here are a few of my favorite hacks for posture problems in everyday activities.
Posture Problems While Working
Check out your desk set up. When you sit at your desk, do your eyes look down at the keyboard? If so, you may be experiencing neck strain. Do your wrists break at the edge of your keyboard, or are they supported? Can you adjust the height of your desk?
Take a quick look at your desk chair. Does your chair encourage good posture or slouching? Does your chair allow you to sit comfortably without sacrificing alignment? Ideal ergonomics should allow for adjustable height and adjustable arms to help you work with your desk set up rather than against it. Posture isn’t just about the length of your spine. We need to consider how your body is working as a whole.
If you can’t splash out the cash for a fancy desk chair (even though they are totally worth it!), fix what you can to help you sit up straighter. Maybe it’s as simple as a lumbar support pillow. If you’re shorter than 5’3″, having a footrest under your desk takes pressure off the low back. You’ll be able to sit up taller and reap the benefits of a long spine– deeper breathing and a calmer, more thoughtful brain.
You may give some thought to a standing desk, too, if you find you’re a regular desk sloucher. But be warned that doesn’t solve your posture problems! You’ll need to tune in to how you hold your body and shift your weight while standing.
Posture Problems While Driving
Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time in your car.
(I’m raising my hand. You just can’t see me.)
Raise your hand if you have ideal posture while you’re driving.
(I’m not raising my hand. You’re not missing anything.)
You see, I have three kids in three different schools, and they’re each in about two million activities. I decided if I was going to be spending so much time driving, I’d better start paying attention to my posture.
And that’s when I learned this life-changing bit of information…
Take a look at the floor of your car by the driver’s seat. In addition to the brake and gas pedals (and clutch if you’re old school), you’ll see a bit of black rubber in the upper left corner. Do you know what that is?
That’s where your left foot goes!
If you put your left foot there– and not tucked under your right leg or curled up on the seat with you– your pelvis is level. Your spine can sit tall. You are in the most balanced posture. Not only that, but your chest will lift rather than be slumped to one side. Doesn’t that sound ideal for an activity where your reaction time is everything?!
There’s another simple way to improve your posture while driving. Raise your rear-view mirror slightly. You’ll force yourself to sit up taller. It’s really as simple as that!
Making these two small changes will greatly improve your posture while driving.
Posture Problems While Doing Dishes
I know, I know. No one likes doing dishes.
(Except for my grandmother– she grew up during the Great Depression, and she always said dirty dishes meant she ate.)
But at the end of a long day, a sink full of dishes often induces some pretty poor posture. Even if all you’re doing is rinsing before putting dishes into the dishwasher (hallelujah!), I’m guessing there are a few posture problems that pop up.
First of all, notice where your shoulders are as you’re holding that heavy pasta pot in the sink. Most likely, your shoulders are up somewhere near your ears. If you can teach yourself to lift with your biceps (in your arms) rather than from your shoulders (and trapezius), you’ll be able to maintain better posture.
Pay attention to where your feet are relative to the sink. If you’re standing too far away from the sink– perhaps because you don’t want to be splashed– you’re likely putting undue pressure on your back. Even if you’re hinged at the hips, your shoulders are likely rounded far to the front. If you stand up nice and close to the sink, you’ll be able to work with a more open chest and reduce the pulling on the low back. And now you have a reason to wear that apron your mom sent you, too.
After you nail good posture in everyday activities, make sure you understand how good posture during exercise boosts benefits.