Imagine walking into a meeting (when the outsides are fully open, of course and this coronavirus is not keeping us mostly indoors). A big meeting to make a few major decisions about a business venture. There are three people in that meeting. You are the first one in, so you sit and watch the other two walk in.

The first one in is a tall, graceful lady, in a lovely suit. She has on her 4-inch- high heels and walks with poise. Her shoulders are square, and her chin is up – she exudes confidence. The gentleman is not as tall. He has on a white shirt, folded to the elbows, and gives off really good gentlemanly vibes also. Imagine the kind of meeting it would be… all the great ideas that would be discussed. The attitude of the two. The high expectations, the energy!

Now imagine another meeting a few days after that one. Maybe a completely different business venture. A slightly bigger meeting – four people. Two ladies, and two gentlemen. You compare and notice that it lacks the verve of the previous business meeting. Two of the ladies sit slouching in their seats, only one gentleman looks excited about the meeting, and even he is hunched over his laptop half the time. The other man just sits and takes notes. It does not sound like the most successful meeting, and in the end, not so much may came out of it.

Okay, lets come out of the imaginations now.

Apart from having an effect on the energy or lack of it in a room/office, posture can also be a very important part of our health and general well-being. We may not realize it much, but posture makes a big difference

The human spine naturally has three main curves, and when properly aligned, they have an ‘S’ shape, that ensures that weight is well distributed throughout the body, so that we can function well. Bad posture can change the shape of our natural curves, leading to a change in the amount of pressure and weight being distributed in different parts of the body. Depending on the change that occurs, the body tries to adapt or compensate, and this ends up leading to multiple dire consequences

The purpose of our spines apart from holding us up, is also to absorb shock. Bad posture can slowly deteriorate this natural ability, putting our bodies at risk for more serious injury in the future, such as:

  • Pain (especially back and neck pain, as well as headaches).
  • Poor Sleep
  • Poor digestion
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Bad moods
  • Falls in the elderly

Most of us spend close to twelve hours at work each day. More than half of that time is often spent sitting (slouched or bent) behind a computer screen.

A study was done in Israel a few years ago to find out the correlation between posture and workplace productivity. In the end, they noted that most of the workers spent hours slouched over their work, and this resulted in back pain, reduced productivity, poor health, and as a result missed workdays. After the study, the participants were each trained to be more aware of their postures, and then were given a wearable device to aid their posture.

It would surprise you to know that at the end of it all, 75% of the participants experienced improved posture, reduced episodes of back pain, and felt and were noticed to be a lot more productive at work!

There are multiple ways to correct posture in the workplace, but here are a few:

• Stand straight and tall – not only will you keep your body in proper balance, you will also radiate confidence.

• Keep your shoulders back, while tucking your tummy in

• When you sit, sit up with your back straight and shoulders back. Ensure that all the three natural curves of your back are present.

• Keep your head at the level of your shoulders, with your ears

slightly aligned with the shoulders.

• Keep your computer screen at eye level.

• Do not slouch! If you catch yourself slouching, correct

yourself immediately.

• Invest in a good office chair to ensure you are always sitting properly.

I do not have statistics on the amount of money spent on back pain and its related problems in Ghana, due to poor posture. But I do know that one of the commonest conditions that people come to hospital with is back and neck pain. And often, it is a result of bad posture!

By: Dr. Elsie Tirza

Medical Officer

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