Whether sitting, standing or even lying down, posture is often a highly scrutinised factor when it comes to conditions and pain related to the back, neck and shoulders. But should it be? More and more, current research is beginning to suggest that how you sit or stand does not matter as much as how long you stay in that position. So rather than right and wrong, let's focus on some things that may help you to sit or stand more comfortably at work and at home.
Everyone's body is slightly different. The position you find most comfortable to sit or stand in will be different based on your height, body type, fitness levels, previous injuries, working environment and many other factors. This may also change day to day based on how your body is feeling, how well you slept, and even stress levels. Postural guides can help us to achieve more comfortable positions, but they are just guides and do not always take into consideration the specifics of your body.
"Ensure that you stand up, stretch and move around at least once an hour"
Postural muscles actually keep working even when we are not moving. When we are sitting or standing the muscles in our back, neck, shoulders and abdomen must hold a sustained contraction so that we don't fall over. These muscles will often fatigue if we hold any position for long periods of time and can result in pain and stiffness towards the end of the day. One of the simplest ways to get around this is to ensure that you stand up, stretch and move around at least once an hour in between holding a static posture. As little as 20 seconds of movement may be enough to take the load off your muslces before returning to that position.
While it is important to consider the erganomics of your work station, often finding a posture that is comfortable for you, rather then one that is 'perfect', and ensuring you move around frequently throughout the day are more important in reducing stiffness or tension in your back, neck and shoulders.