Are you sitting too comfortably?

Bad posture affects around 70% of the population, Jim Thorp, leading Corrective Exercise expert at JT Ethos, explains how you can help your workforce avoid pain (and days off to recover) due to how they’re sitting.


Back pain_242579164According to research, poor posture at work can lead to back pain and trigger higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and for many employees time off work.

Jim Thorp, clinical head, programme director and lead therapist, explains, “The modern office environment can be to blame for many of the problems individuals face, from ‘phone-cradle neck’ to ‘text neck’ and even ‘monitor chin’.

“But back pain caused by bad posture is an issue affecting around 70% of the nation’s workforce and is now the second most common complaint among people visiting their company’s human resources colleagues.”

“Few suffering with back pain will understand that poor posture is the likely cause and that it can also lead to problems like poor bladder control, knee pain and fallen arches to name but a few. Posture is the position from which movement begins and ends, and if you start in the wrong place you either perform a good movement pattern that keeps the joint in the wrong place (because that is where you started), or you perform a faulty movement pattern to get you into a better position – neither of which is particularly good for you.”

“All movement creates wear and tear on the joints, ligaments and tendons, but poor posture and faulty movement patterns create uneven wear and tear in places where the body finds it hard to deal with. Over time this creates injury, inflammation, pain and weakness.”

“Additionally when a joint is out of place it also takes more energy to move it, decreasing the efficiency of each and every movement, delivering a negative impact on strength and fitness levels. Thanks in part to our more sedentary lifestyle and the reduction in physical labour for many, problems with the back in particular often manifest themselves through increased curve in the upper back, a forward head posture, rounded shoulders and a flat lower back.”

Poor posture pulls both muscles and joints out of position and it is these muscles that are constantly under extra load that deliver the dull throbbing ache in the back suffered by many. There are simple exercises that will help with improving posture specifically aimed at the back, which will begin to deliver results within weeks.

• Stretch it out – people often spend much of the working day hunched over a computer, so every 20 minutes, try to get up for a couple 0f minutes and stretch, walk round the office, stand and work. or stand to answer the phone.

• Sit up straight – when working at your desk, sit up with good, tall posture, but relax your shoulders and let them drop, which can take a while to master but is worth it. Also ensure your work station is set up for good posture – slouching.

• Support your spine – give your spine a bit of help and build up strength in your back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles and side muscles. Building endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is also important, allowing us to stand for long periods without suffering back pain.

• Lift your weight – bone-thinning through osteoporosis can be mitigated with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing and even weight lifting. People who walk regularly tend to have better bone density in later life, so forget calling and walk around the office to talk to colleagues.

Although these tips may seem simple, done consistently they can have a major impact. There are also many interrelated factors that affect posture; ideally you would consider the whole body and the interrelationships between the organs, muscles, joints and systems of the body, including diet and nutrition – here a browse through advice articles on the internet can help.