For over 1 year now, many of us have spent numerous hours sitting at an ergonomically incorrect desk set-up, while working from home. This bad work set-up has led to a lot of people starting to have a hunched over appearance. Kyphosis, which I term “pandemic posture”, is an extreme outward curve of the upper spine that results in an abnormal rounding of the upper back and hunched over shoulders. In addition to not being an overly attractive body posture, kyphosis can put pressure on your lungs, spine and neck. A leading cause of pandemic posture is how many of us sit while we work, but there are other causes too.
Causes of Pandemic Posture
- Poor posture while sitting, especially during long work hours. Many of us work on laptops with small screens, that sit too high on a desk. Our head is tilted forward and down putting pressure on our neck. Our arms are scrunched up around our neck and our shoulders are hunched forward. Sitting while watching TV is also a prime time when many of us hunch over.
- Limited movement. Working from home over the pandemic, has made it even tougher to move around each hour. Your kitchen, washroom, desk and balcony may only be 20 steps away from one another. Condo living makes getting only hundreds of steps in throughout a whole day, a reality!
- Performing the same exercises everyday. Peloton bikes have gained significant popularity over this past year. Unfortunately, the position you’re in while biking, is often the hunched over position you’re often in at your desk. Too much of any movement, except walking, isn’t good for your body or your posture.
- Poor mental health. Boredom, loneliness or depression are feelings we’ve all felt at some point over the pandemic. When we feel this way, we’re more inclined to walk around with our heads down, and our shoulders slouched.
Solutions to Prevent or Correct a Hunchback Posture
- Fix your workstation. Be sure to have a proper area of your home set-up to work at. We’ve been working from home far too long to still be sitting at the kitchen table, or worse yet, lying in bed with the lap top propped up on our legs! How we sit at our desks, really matters to our health and posture!
- Move around every hour. I talk about the importance of regularly, daily activity a lot. It’s critical to boost both physical and mental health. Regular movement helps keep the pounds off, and keep the energy up, making you more productive for work and fun!
- Strengthen and stretch your shoulders, back and hips with a variety of exercises. It’s these areas of the body that take the biggest hit with pandemic posture.
Some terrific shoulder blade (scapular) exercises for you to work on include: elevating, depressing, protracting and retracting your shoulder blades.
The “Hip Rocker Lunge” is a great exercise to open up your hips and work your glutes, making it a great move for those of you who sit far too much, hunched over your computers.
- Try relaxation breathing to help boost your mood. Simply taking the time to breathe correctly for a couple of minutes, can really help relax you and make you feel better. It can help open up your body, thereby preventing pandemic posture. There are many forms of relaxation breathing. My favourite is belly breathing.
To Sum it up…Pandemic Posture is Cause for Concern
Kyphosis, or pandemic posture, is often caused by poor posture while sitting. It can also be a result of not moving enough, performing the same activity too much or depression. Fixing your workstation, moving more throughout the whole day, strengthening your body and relaxation breathing, can all help fight against pandemic posture. Which strategy will you try out?
Sources: Pandemic Kyphosis, webinar, Tracie Smith-Beyak, April 10, 2021, canfit pro online conference