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Freeze. Don’t move a muscle. As you read these words, notice the placement of your head – are you leaning into the page or the screen? What about your shoulders – are you hunched over a magazine or electronic device? Do a quick self-assessment: How does your current posture compare with ideal posture?
If you’re like most people, you tilt your head when you read or use a smartphone or other electronic device, when you’re at your desk at work, and pretty much any time you’re examining something closely. The trouble is, smartphone use has dramatically increased the frequency and duration of this activity, particularly among young people.
The human head weighs about 10-12 pounds when in a neutral position: balanced between the shoulders, chin level, and eyes gazing forward, shoulders and shoulder blades retracted. This weight – and the resulting load on the spine – increases dramatically when the head flexes forward.
The long-term consequences of a tilted-head posture are incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine that could lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgery.
The obvious answer to what some are calling an “epidemic” of poor posture isn’t very practical – people aren’t going to use their phones less. Good posture matters. Pain related to technology use is often due to poor posture and ergonomics. When you’re sitting in front of your computer with a certain posture for hours on end, your body gets used to being in that position.
Make sure you have the appropriate monitor, desk and chair height for you. Can’t buy a new desk? Keep your head in a neutral position with your monitor at eye-level. You want to have the height of the chair so that your feet can rest comfortably on the floor and your knees are at or just below your hips.
Sitting up straight might not come naturally at first. It requires diligence, but more importantly, practice. As with all things, active practice will help solidify proper posture as habit. One sign you’re not doing it right: If anything in your body feels achy or uncomfortable after prolonged use, it’s your body’s way of screaming at you to change position and find a better one because it’s struggling to make your current posture work.
Bad posture is a common occurrence in office workers. Did you know that massage can help get your body back on track when it comes to having good posture?
“In 2001, I graduated from the Atlanta School of Massage and have never looked back on my mission to bring peace and harmony into a stressful, work-centered culture. In October 2006, I started my business, Massage Kneads, and have been enriched professionally ever since. My college business degree and my passion for massage was the perfect marriage to Massage Kneads! With 13+ years of medical sales behind me, I realized that in all offices, large and small, the “knead” for some relief within the corporate world.”