Two years of pandemic forced us all back into our homes, seeing us work from kitchen tables, sofas, even floors! In short, it wasn’t good for our mobility, activity levels or posture. Unsurprisingly, because of this, and the fact many of us are still working more hours at home than pre-pandemic, there’s been a marked increase in reported aches and pains.
Here, physiotherapist to boxer Anthony Joshua and F1 driver Lance Stroll, Rob Madden, provides a complete guide to posture plus his five key exercises to help alleviate pain and improve flexibility.
What is posture?
Posture is defined as the attitude assumed by the body either with support during the course of activity or as a result of the coordinated action.
How has the pandemic and at-home working affected our posture?
Many people were spending longer periods in one position due to a change of habits. Reasons contributing to this were: no commuting/travel to work and perhaps not going out for lunch and having to remain within their house/apartment all day.
Good or bad posture alone is actually not the cause of issues, but not moving enough or taking enough breaks for activity led to an increase in aches and pains.
What constitutes ‘good’ or ‘bad’ posture?
As mentioned before it’s not quite as clear cut as being in one posture or another is bad for the body. The body is very resilient to cope with a variety of different postures. However, remaining in one position for very long periods of time without a good exercise routine can certainly impact the physical health of an individual. It may also lead to a greater risk of pain/stiffness.
For example, if someone has spent 40 hours sat down throughout a working week with no exercise or movement and then goes to play golf on the weekend without preparation, this can lead to reduced performance and greater chances of aches and pains. The video guides below are designed to give people a few easy options to take breaks away from the desk.
It’s also very much encouraged for people to spend large chunks of their day stood up (for example use a sit-to-stand desk). Also, where possible take a voice call on a hands free device so they can take a walk.
How can cycling negatively impact posture?
Following on from the above theme, cycling is a really positive way of exercising the body and can improve overall fitness and physical health.
However, if that individual only ever cycles and does not participate in other types of activity opposing the very flexed nature of cycling (flexed hip, flexed spine, flexed knees) then that may limit them and could increase risk of aches and pains.
My key advice is it to include variety within their physical training and sensibly manage the training load they do in one week and only gradually increase it.
Does the three-sport nature of triathlon actually help with posture?
In keeping with the above theme, the nature of triathlon is as it creates a huge variety of fantastic different physical postures which the body will benefit from.
It does of course require careful training planning and sensible periodization throughout a year, but it’s an extremely positive thing to do for the body. It’s also the ultimate test of fitness! All the triathletes I ever worked with were in brilliant shape.
What advice can you give people who are still home-working or are desk-bound most of the day?
Follow the above advice and the below video series!
What are the best exercises to focus on?
Intro to minimising aches and pain from working from home
How to improve posture at your desk
How to use a foam roller to alleviate back pain
How to alleviate neck pain
How to alleviate pain
A survey of people working remotely, by Opinium for the charity Versus Arthritis, reported the following:
- 81% of respondents were experiencing some back, neck or shoulder pain
- 48% said they were less physically active than before the lockdown
- 23% said they experienced musculoskeletal pain most or all of the time
- 46% said they had been taking painkillers more often than they would like
- 50% of respondent reported lower back pain
- 36% neck pain
- 28% shoulder pain
Top image: Getty Images