It’s not only monkeys who lean forwards all day. As we sit at our desks, everything we need to use is ahead of us – the keyboard, monitor, mouse, papers.
We reach forwards with our body and we shift our centre of gravity with it, changing our posture.
Short term (i.e. 20-30 mins max), this is OK. But if we do this day in day out, for 8 hours a day, it starts to become a problem. Our position becomes a bit chimp-like.
Not that I have anything against monkeys! They’re cute, they have big smiles and I always wanted one when I was growing up (my parents didn’t seem to agree that they would make ideal pets).
It’s just that, as far as posture goes…. they aren’t exactly “Homo Erectus”.
What bad desk posture does to your body
Monkeys spend much of their time walking on all fours, meaning their centre of gravity is shifted way ahead of their hind legs, so they find balance by using their arms to crawl.
Now before anyone gets upset, I’m not saying that desk-workers look like chimps! But when we lean forwards, our muscles start to ‘remember’ where we habitually put them.
Upper Body Effects
Our pectoral muscles (pecs) become shorter to help bring the arms forwards.
Our upper neck muscles (the suboccipitals at the base of the skull) tighten to extend our neck to gaze into the monitor.
Our upper trapezius muscles get tighter and shorter to lift the shoulders ready for typing.
Lower Back Effects
The effects aren’t isolated to the upper back and neck either. Leaning forwards also affects the lower back.
The lower (lumbar) portion of the spine is designed to have a small backwards curve (lordosis) to optimally support the weight of the upper body more effectively.
However when we sit leaning forwards, this curve disappears or reverses, making it significantly more likely we’ll injure our joints and discs.
Micro-break stretches for better posture
Although our posture is a partly genetic, it’s largely habit. So it’s possible to teach your body to ‘remember’ good posture, too.
Suffering pain from your chimp posture? Book an appointment with me.