The best exercises to improve posture and increase productivity
Professionals are likely to spend a considerable percentage of their office time working on the computer and typing. However, simple actions such as typing can put a strain on fingers and body if not performed properly.
This repetitive strain results in low levels of productivity or developing bad posture habits in general. Maintaining good posture can allow you to effectively reduce the stress and pain often associated with typing for an extensive period of time. In this post we share 15 effective exercises to improve posture or fix bad posture.
Good Posture – Why It Is Important
Most of us will remember our parents and teachers telling us “sit up straight”, “pull back your shoulders”, “don’t shuffle” and “hold up your head”. They wanted us to maintain a good posture, but why? What does it matter how we stand, sit and walk? Believe me, it DOES matter.
1. Bad posture can cause pain and serious medical conditions
Sitting for long periods in front of a computer (like so many of us do) without maintaining a good posture puts you at risk of developing back and neck pain, poor vision, headaches, inflammation and a host of other health problems (see below). Most of these potentially debilitating conditions can be avoided by maintaining a good posture at all times.
2. Poor posture creates a negative impression
Celebrities, successful business people, sports stars and leaders all have one thing in common: they maintain a good posture at all times. A good posture radiates confidence and a sense of self worth. A poor posture sends messages of a person that is dejected, unsure of himself and unmotivated.
3. Good posture improves overall performance
People that have a good posture are generally more productive than those that have a poor posture. Not only are people with a good posture less prone to develop health problems or to experience chronic pain, but they are better able to concentrate.
Bad Posture – Risks and Tips to Fix it
More than 80% of all working people spend long periods sitting in one position and the majority of them spend several hours each day working on computers. Then there are those of you that do not work, but also spend long hours in front of a computer, playing games, using social media or typing.
If you are one of these people, you are in danger of developing one or more serious medical conditions and you will be surprised to learn just how many debilitating conditions are directly related to long hours in front of the computer. Here are a few of the most common ones:
1. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSI is one of the most common injuries related to the workplace. Anyone that performs the same hand movements over and over and over again, such as typing or clicking a mouse, is at risk. RSI can cause damage to the muscles, nerves in the neck, the tendons, the shoulders, the forearms and the hands.
The result is constant pain and weakness. Eventually, RSI can even cause you to lose your motor control. In very severe cases you may even lose the ability to drive, to open doors, to shake hands and, of course, to type.
You may not be able or willing to give up the activities that place you at risk of developing RSI, but there are a few basic precautions that you can take.
- Take regular breaks.
- Perform stretching exercises during breaks.
- Keep the spine straight.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Use an ergonomically designed chair.
- When typing, keep your elbows at your sides.
- Avoid resting your wrists on the desk.
- Learn to touch type properly.
If you already experience one or more of the symptoms of RSI, you should consult your doctor. Medication and treatment will provide relief, but if you do not improve your posture and take steps to avoid RSI in the future, no amount of medication will help in the long term.
Tip: If you are in the market for typing software make sure the chosen program offers exercises or tips on how to sit correctly or move and relax fingers.
2. Computer Vision Syndrome
If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer you most probably experience eye strain regularly. Strain is not the major problem you face. However. Computer vision syndrome is a serious degenerative eye condition. You can easily end up with Myopia (drastically reduced eyesight), blurred vision and even Glaucoma.
You are at risk if you experience overall eye tiredness, itching, dry eyes and the constant feeling that something is stuck in your eye. These symptoms may be the onset of more serious eye problems and if you experience any of them, it is best to seek medical help.
The major cause of computer vision syndrome is the glare and the radiation emitted from the monitor. The longer the periods during which you concentrate on the monitor the bigger the risk of developing computer vision syndrome. Here are a few ways in which can can significantly reduce the risk.
- Look away from the monitor every few minutes.
- Make sure the monitor is positioned at eye level or slightly below.
- Reduce the glare caused by windows and lights.
- Reduce the brightness of your monitor.
- Use the best quality monitors only.
- Take breaks from your workstation and focus on objects in the middle distance.
3. Back and neck pain
Chiropractors and back specialists do a brisk trade in patients that suffer from constant back or neck pain due to poor posture and long periods in front of the computer. In the majority of cases the pain is caused by to an out-of-alignment spine. This is turn, can almost always be blamed on slouching, rounded shoulders and hunching whilst typing. You can reduce the risk of back pain with a few simple precautions.
- Use a good quality chair that is adjustable.
- Sit up straight and keep your feet on the ground.
- Get up and stretch every fifteen minutes.
- Perform exercises that strengthen the back muscles.
- Position the keyboard and monitor at the correct hight.
4. Mouse related injuries
Most literature focus on the injuries and medical conditions caused by the use of the keyboard and by staring at the monitor for long periods of time. The mouse, however, can also cause all kinds of trouble, specifically pain in the hands, arms, wrists, elbows and the shoulder. Modern software demand the frequent use of the mouse and you should make sure that you use it correctly. Here is how:
- Place the mouse as near to the keyboard as possible.
- The mouse must be at the same level as the keyboard.
- When using the mouse, use your whole arm, not just your wrist.
How To Improve Posture – 10 Exercises to Relax
Luckily, there is much that you can do to prevent poor posture from developing and you can even reverse the signs and symptoms of poor posture. Here are a few easy to perform exercises and tips on how to improve your posture and how to relax.
1. Shoulder rolls
This easy exercise will strengthen your shoulder muscles and ease tension in both the neck and the shoulders. This is how:
a. Sit or stand up straight.
b. Take a deep breath and at the same time that you inhale, draw your shoulder blades up to your ears.
c. Exhale through your nose. Draw shoulder blades down & towards each other.
d. Repeat ten times.
2. The cobra pose
The cobra pose will strengthen the back muscles and help to prevent you from slouching.
a. Lie on your stomach on the floor with your palms firmly on the floor near your ribs.
b. Stretch your legs as far as possible behind you, with the tops of your feet pressed into the floor.
c. As you exhale, pull your stomach muscles in towards your spine.
d. Slowly lift your head and chest of the floor, using only your back muscles. (Do not press yourself up with your hands.)
e. Keep your hip bones firmly on the floor.
f. Slowly lower your head and chest.
g. Repeat five times.
3. The plank pose
An excellent way of improving posture and the strength of your stomach, back and shoulder muscles.
a. Get on your hands and knees with your palms positioned under your shoulders.
b. Extend your legs behind you, with the toes tucked in, until you are in a position similar to when you perform push-ups.
c. Pull your stomach muscles in towards your spine and gaze down at the floor.
d. Hold this position as long as you can and repeat the process three to five times.
4. The single leg extension
This is one of the best exercises in which to stabilize your pelvis, vital to a good posture.
a. Lie down on your back with your knees bent but with your feet flat on the floor.
b. Place your hands behind your head.
c. Press your lower back against the floor and slowly curl up your head.
d. Exhale forcibly and at the same time draw your navel inwards toward your spine.
e. Slowly pull one knee in towards your chest. Keep lower back firmly on the floor.
f. Extend the other leg as far as possible. Lift it 45 degrees of the floor.
g. Keep this position as long as you can.
h. Repeat five times, alternating the leg that is lifted up.
5. The kneeling spine twist
Good posture is only possible when the spine is kept straight at all times.
a. Kneel down with your feet extended towards the back.
b. Stretch your arms to the sides and pull your stomach muscles inward.
c. Twist to one side, keeping your pelvis perfectly still.
d. Do this three times and then twist three times to the other side..
e. Repeat five times.
6. Rocker prep
The Rocker prep exercise strengthens the stomach, shoulder and back muscles.
a. Lie on your stomach and slowly bend your knees.
b. Reach backward with your hands and get hold of your ankles.
c. Lift your chest off the floor and kick into your hands.
d. Start a slow forward and backward rocking motion.
e. Keep it up as long as you can and repeat the exercise three times.
7. Crossover exercises
Crossover training will exercise all the core muscles and tendons.
a. Lie down on your back with your hands behind your head.
b. Lift your chest off the floor and pull your knees onto your chest.
c. Make sure your lower back remains firmly on the floor.
d. Keep one knee pulled into the chest and extend the other leg straight.
e. Rotate your torso towards the bent knee.
f. Slowly switch legs, pulling the extended knee to your chest and extending the bent leg to a stretched out position.
g. Rotate the torso towards the bent knee.
h. Repeat ten times.
8. The new crunch
Crunches will exercise the important six-pack muscles.
a. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
b. Press your lower back into the floor.
c. Reach your arms towards your knees.
d. Exhale forcibly and pull your navel in towards your spine.
e. Slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
f. Hold the pose as long as possible.
g. Repeat five to ten times.
9. Take up Yoga or Pilates
OK, this is not a single exercise but Yoga or Pilates is one of the very best ways to gain and maintain an excellent posture. Yoga, for example, is suitable for people of all ages and all levels of fitness. It consists of many different exercises that strengthen the muscles and improve the overall flexibility of the body. As an added bonus yoga will help you to relax and to get rid of stress.
10. Consider a posture improvement device
Experts agree that a disciplined approach to regular exercise is the very best way in which to develop and maintain a good posture. However, you may want to consider one of the many devices specifically designed to help you to maintain a good posture.
There are molded devices that force you to sit upright and that supports the lower back. There are specially designed belts that help keep your back straight and there are gadgets designed to prevent you from slouching. A simple on-line search will help you to find out more about these devices.
Improve Keyboard Posture – 5 Exercises
Your seated posture and your wrist position can significantly impact the level of tension that builds up within your muscles. Ideally your chair should offer a seat at the right height as well as an adjustable back rest, while also providing support to your back and thighs.
A foot rest may be necessary to get your feet in the proper position. The work surface of the desk should not be cluttered, so that you can place the keyboard and monitor in the right positions. The underside of the desk should offer space for correct posture and leg movement.
Your forearms should remain in a horizontal position and the keyboard must be kept at the proper distance in order to provide sufficient space for your wrists to rest during typing.
Simple finger and body exercises can allow you to relieve the stress and tension that is associated with typing for long hours. These exercises can be performed during breaks from work.
11. Bending Your Knuckles
Extend both the hands on a flat surface. Next, you need to fold your fingers downwards while bending your knuckles. This position should be held for a few seconds. Extend your fingers again. This exercise should be repeated a few times for best results.
12. Squeezing Your Hands
Any object shaped like a hand-sized ball can be used when performing this exercise. Close the object in your hand and press your fingers tightly to engage the muscles. Release the fingers after a few seconds. This exercise should also be repeated a few times in a row.
13. Pressing Your Hands
Your fingers should be extended in an upward position while resting both the wrists on a smooth plane. The other hand then will be used to push the fingers gently towards the wrist. Hold this position for a few seconds, and repeat.
Start out in a standing position and rest your hands on your shoulders, with the right hand on the right shoulder and the left hand on the left shoulder. Extend your elbows so that the floor and your upper arms are parallel. Rotate the upper part of your body a few times to either side. This stretches your back muscles as well as your hip joints.
15. Stretching Your Back and Arms
Your left hand should start out in the center of the shoulder blades by positioning it behind your back. Then move your right hand to reach the left hand from above your head. Although your right hand and left hand might not be able to meet the first few times, regular exercise will allow you to easily perform this stretching exercise.
How To Improve Posture – Conclusion on Exercises
You have a lot to gain from developing and maintaining a good posture. Unfortunately, you also have a lot to lose if you have a bad posture. The good news is that you do not need special equipment or a lot of time to correct your posture.
All you need is an awareness of the potential consequences of a poor posture and the determination to escape those consequences. Applying any of the above mentioned exercises to improve posture will help reduce the risk of potential medial conditions that may limit mobility and flexibility. We suggest to take regular breaks and exercise. Please consider taking professional advice from a doctor if you already have pain or symptoms pointing to RSI or chronic strain.
Improving posture and understanding typing ergonomics are very interesting topics to help improve your typing speed and accuracy. Software tutors that will teach you good posture are Typesy or KAZ Typing.
Please share your exercises, tips and tricks in the comments below to expand this tutorial for other readers.