Find out how to solve bad posture

Bad posture can lead to pain in the neck, back, shoulders, legs and feet, as well as referred pain in the head. It can add to stress and fatigue and in the long term it can cause serious musculoskeletal disorders. Luckily you can change your bad habits and develop good posture if you follow the right advice.

First thing to note is that good posture is not just about sitting up straight. In fact it is more about being supported in a good position. But there are of course many factors when it comes to good posture.

Below are some common causes of bad posture and some associated solutions. Follow these tips to improve your posture and don't forget to take regular breaks and move.

Posture illustration
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Bad sitting posture

Do not perch on the front of your seat. Sit back in your chair. If you need to re-arrange your workstation to be comfortable then do so.

Likewise do not slouch incorrectly. This results in the loss of the inward curve in the lumbar spine, causing excessive strain on the lumbar discs.

Instead move your chair closer to the desk and maintain contact between your back and the seat back.

This will be best achieved by a suitably adjusted chair. The lumbar region of the chair will help you maintain the inward curve of the lumbar spine. In the short term, a lumbar support cushion may be helpful, though this will be less effective as a long term solution.

You can find out more about how to sit correctly here.

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Sitting at the wrong height

Your legs should be supported correctly whilst seated.

Do not let your feet "dangle", cross your legs, or be tempted to raise your legs so they are supported on the heels or ankles.

If when sitting with your arms in the correct position you do not have good foot support, try a footrest. If your knees are higher than your hips, raise the desk and chair height.

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Armrests at the wrong height

Your shoulders should be in a relaxed position whilst you work. Armrests can help by providing support, but if too high cause raised shoulders and if too low cause leaning. Both are bad habits.

If the armrests are too high or low, either remove the armrests or get a chair with height adjustable armrests.

Fixed height armrests often hit the desk edge when the chair is at the correct height, which make you lean forward or sit on the edge of your seat, away from the backrest.

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Armrests too wide

You should have your elbows close to your sides. If your chair armrests are forcing you to reach outwards to support the elbows, avoid using them or remove them altogether. Most good ergonomic office chairs have adjustments to adjust the width of the armrests to the correct level.

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Screen too high or low

The wrong height of the screen can cause problems with your neck and back.

You should usually have the monitor at a height where the top of the screen, not the monitor case, is level with your eyes.

Put the monitor on monitor blocks or use a Monitor arm. Even some books stacked up can help adjust the height, but make sure the monitor is stable.

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Looking up and down too much when reading

Find a position for your reading material that does not require lots of head movement.

The best way is to use a writing slope or document holder to place your reading material copy at an optimal height and angle.

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Poor head and neck support

You may benefit from a neck rest on your office chair, which can be used when not typing to help you relax your neck.

You can also try a change of pillow out of the office.

Also don't forget to get up and move every 20 minutes or so. You can find some workstation exercises here.