I’m not going to keep you in suspense. It’s good posture.
Yes, good posture.
You would be amazed at what proper posture does for your health, well-being and overall success. And we know that there’s a direct correlation between the way we feel and our work and performance.
I’ve mentioned before that several years ago, I broke my back in an auto accident. Since then, I’m very conscious of my back and try to have good posture. Sitting up straight just feels good. Even on long trips. I intentionally sit in airplane seats that don’t recline because reclining the seat doesn’t feel relaxing.
So, yes, I’m a posture freak.
But even I must admit that I was surprised at my poor posture habits prior to getting a Herman Miller Embody chair. If you’re not familiar with the company, Herman Miller is a furniture company known for its contemporary and ergonomic designs. Their Aeron Chair is an icon in the office furniture world. They specialize in helping companies design beautiful and healthy workspaces for employee success.
Since I spend a lot of time sitting, the wonderful folks at Herman Miller sent me an Embody Chair. I was thrilled! With all of the conversation today about “sitting is the new smoking,” I wanted to see if a chair really makes a difference. Especially for someone like me, who is a self-proclaimed posture enthusiast.
Bottom-line? Yes, it does.
The Embody Chair is not only stylish, it helps me maintain good posture in a comfortable way. The chair is very customizable. You set the seat height, arm height, and back to fit you. It comes with instructions on the best way to set the chair for proper posture. You don’t have to guess what proper posture feels like. Because trust me, proper posture takes some getting used to!
Speaking of which, if you’re wondering how you can check your posture, I asked Rebecca Greier Horton, human factors and ergonomics consultant at Herman Miller for a primer.
[Horton] If you are able to stand for a period of time without pain, you more than likely have good posture. Poor posture causes pain: stress on joints, poor circulation (numbness), some of the body’s muscles tighten and shorten while others lengthen and become weak. If you experience pain, chances are something is out of alignment. Here’s a physical description of good standing and seated posture:
Good Standing Posture
- Both feet flat on the ground with knees unlocked.
- From a side view the ears, middle of the shoulder, middle of pelvis, knees, and ankles should align. Think in terms of a plumb line running down the side of the body.
- Joints are relaxed but core muscles are engaged to support the natural S curve of the spine. Avoid the “Mommy stance” (i.e., toddler perched on one hip and all of the body weight supported on one leg.)
Proper seated posture is highly influenced by what we are sitting upon: Park bench? Boulder? Beanbag? Office chair? Sitting posture is similar to a building foundation. If you are able to stabilize the foundation, the rest of the spine stacks atop the foundation (i.e., no leaning tower of Pisa.)
Proper Seated Posture
- To position the body into a good seated posture, feet are flat on the floor.
- The knees are bent at a 90-degree angle with no impingement on the nerve running behind the knee.
- The sacrum is firmly supported so the natural S curve of the spine is established.
- The scapulae are stabilized against a supportive back and the head is perched atop the shoulders (not craning forward or tilting/turning to one side.)
Don’t forget your shoulders! For many of us who drive, work on a computer, and/or are just habitual slouchers, our shoulders tend to stay rotated forward. This is how you can keep your shoulders aligned.
- Visualize the anatomy of your shoulders and how there are three distinct deltoid muscles.
- Think of holding your shoulders in a position keeping those three muscles balanced.
Rebecca also shared with me that proper posture results in more than just a straight back. “Proper posture results in pain free movement. Degeneration of joints and our bones is inevitable but by establishing good posture (and it’s almost never too late) one can mitigate pain. There are entire studies discussing the effects of pain on both physical and physiological well-being.”
[Tweet “The key to “good posture” is movement, so – Sit. Stand. Repeat!”]
I know that part of the fun in today’s workspaces is taking the traditional desk out of the picture. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But we can’t sacrifice our health in the process. Just because we can work with a laptop in our bed, doesn’t mean we should. We can have cool and healthy offices.
If we take care of our bodies, it shows in our work. When we feel good, we work smarter and perform better. Proper posture helps us feel our best so we can do our best work.2