Most of us had parents telling us to ‘sit up straight’ and ‘not to slouch’ but they had a point. The NHS cites back pain as the leading cause of long-term sickness in the UK, responsible for more than 15 million lost work days in 2013. They put this back pain down to strained muscles or ligaments, wear and tear, bad posture and stress.
FIVE ADDITIONAL SYMPTOMS OF POOR POSTURE
Aside from back pain, bad posture has a number of other causes. Here are just five of them:
- Digestive problems. When we slouch our intestines are restricted, which can result in blockages
- Tension headaches. Bad posture leads to the neck and shoulder muscles becoming tense. This in turn puts pressure on the nerves and can diminish blood flow to the back of the head, resulting in tension headaches
- Blood vessel constriction. A misaligned spine affects everything else, including flow of blood. Coupled with sitting down restricted blood through to the legs can cause spider veins and even thrombosis
- Higher levels of stress. A study by Harvard University showed that people who adopted powerful postures experienced a 25% decrease in cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
- A slumped position results in shallow breathing and that, coupled with the various items mentioned above puts a lot of pressure on the body. This results in fatigue as the body works hard to compensate.
COMBATING BAD POSTURE AT WORK
There are a number of things that you can do to help your employees with their posture whilst at work. Firstly ensure that all members of staff have a workstation assessment carried out, which checks a number of items such as computer screen position and chair height.
You can highlight the pitfalls of bad posture and give tips on how to reduce the slouch at work – such as taking regular breaks, or undertaking simple exercises such as rolling the shoulders back and together.
We run a posture awareness workshop that is packed full of advice. Aside from undertaking a workstation assessment (which we do for some of our clients) we find the best prevention is education.
Long-term sickness can really damage a company’s bottom-line so addressing bad posture in the workplace is definitely worth doing.