The way you work can have a dramatic effect on your posture, resulting in back pain and long-term issues. Improving your posture at work could make a huge difference. Whether you’re working from the office or working from home, your posture is important. It is far too easy for poor posture to become second nature due to bad habits – such as how you sit in your office chair, carry your bag or drive – which can result in back and neck pain, as well as serious spinal damage. Taking steps to improve your posture, support your back and avoid potential long-term damage is important when it comes to working in an office environment. The chances are you spend a lot of time at your desk, which means you need to understand exactly how you should be working. To help ensure you’re sitting comfortably and improving those bad habits that can lead to back pain, we’ve put together an essential guide on how to improve your posture at work. Make sure you have a suitable chair Not having the right chair is the first and biggest mistake people often make. Old, unsupportive and broken chairs can all cause problems beyond not being very comfortable. In a professional office environment, it’s often the case that you inherit a chair that has been well-used when you start at the company. You should ensure that the adjustments all work as they should, there is still adequate padding on the seat and that it is comfortable. If there is a problem with your chair, you should bring it to the attention of your company as they are required to provide you with adequate equipment. When it comes to working from home, too many people work from the sofa, their bed or a dining chair – none of which are ideal. Office chairs are designed with office working in mind, meaning they will always be the better choice. They allow for adjustments to be made, support good posture and ensure your back is being looked after. Whether you have a desk or are working at the kitchen table, you should ensure you invest in an ergonomic office chair. Set up your chair and desk correctly Your workspace should be set up to enable you to practice neutral posture. This is when you allow your spine to sit in is natural alignment position, which is straight from head to toe. Practising this will help you avoid slouching or hunching over, helping to reduce muscle tension and pain. To ensure your posture is correct, you need to make sure your desk and chair are both set up correctly. This should enable you to maintain a neutral posture without having to think about it. Ultimately, your workspace set up should follow these rules: Your lower back is adequately supported. You can sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Your chair height should allow you to use your keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. Your monitor should be at eye-level and an arm’s length away. Your keyboard should be straight in front of you. Your mouse should be kept close so you can easily use it without needing to reach. If you need more detail on how to set up your desk, you can take a look at our blog, which covers all the information you’ll need to make sure your office helps your posture. Pay attention to the warning signs Poor posture will usually give you a warning sign that it is starting to affect you physically. You might experience back pain, tense muscles, or an aching neck throughout your workday, which can all be caused by your posture as you work. You should also pay attention to when you experience pain or twinges, as this can help you figure out what might help. It may be that your back starts to hurt at a certain time of day, which could mean you’ve been sitting down for too long, or you find that you are uncomfortable while performing a certain task, which could be due to how you sit while doing that task. Once you start to pay attention and adjust your posture and position accordingly, you may find that the pain and discomfort become a thing of the past. If not and you are still getting paid despite your desk and chair being set up correctly, it may be that you need to try a new chair that gives you better support. Get up and move about regularly It is far too easy to stay sitting down for long periods of time when you work in an office, especially if you have a lot on your plate. However, sitting down for long periods of time means that slouching and poor posture become more likely as your muscles get tired. This can happen even if your workspace is set up perfectly. To help avoid this, you need to change positions frequently. Simply standing up or stretching walking for a few minutes will help to refresh your muscles and mean you avoid falling back into bad posture. Try and get into the habit of switching things up every half an hour to an hour, even if you just stand up at your desk for a couple of minutes. With this in mind, it’s also a good idea to avoid eating your lunch at your desk. Instead, use a breakout area or get outside for some fresh hour to help revitalise you and help you maintain the right posture while you’re working. If you want to make it easier to carry on working while still switching your position regularly, you might want to consider a height-adjustable desk. These allow you to simply press a button and move your workspace from sitting to standing, allowing you to carry on working while standing up. Height-adjustable desks are also beneficial for keeping you engaged and awake, as well as helping with your posture, making them a great addition to your office. Maintain the right posture at home Good posture needs to become a habit, which means you can’t just aim to improve your posture at work and expect that to do the job. You need to take steps to make sure your posture is correct when you’re not in the office, which means sitting properly when you’re driving or chilling out on the sofa at home. The more you maintain a relaxed, neutral posture, the less you’ll have to think about correcting the way you sit and stand. Over time, it should become second nature, which will mean you enjoy the benefit that good posture brings as standard.