Do you feel fatigued at work? Whether you show up tired in the mornings or have an afternoon lull of lethargy, postural fatigue may be affecting your work performance.
Did you know that proper posture can help you prevent and overcome fatigue? How you present yourself at work can actually improve your work performance and overall job satisfaction.
Posture Alters Resting State in the Brain
Neuroimaging shows that upright versus supine posture increases widespread high-frequency oscillatory activity and alertness within the brain. Researchers show a significant influence of posture on brain dynamics and brain activity.
Put simply, when you have upright posture, you are more alert and have a higher level of brain activity. Think about it, if you consciously hold your body upright with proper posture you feel more energized, versus slumping low in your chair with little energy.
Try it right now. Sit up straight, tighten your core, take nice deep breaths and feel how your body in proper posture is bounding with high energy! Now slouch your shoulders forward, bring your hips forward and sit low in your chair. Do you feel how slouching leads to a work-related narcosis?
Self Perceived Fatigue Changes Your Posture
Interestingly, researchers have shown that even the perception of fatigue changes your posture. They also showed that poor posture was a predecessor to low back pain. Meaning that poor posture not only deprives your body of energy, but it also predisposes you to work-related pain and injuries.
This research article evaluated the postural changes that occur at work in response to fatigue. They discovered that as workers had the perception of fatigue, they have postural changes, then resulting in low back pain.
One of the most critical risk factors contributing to injury of the low back is posture, specifically of the torso. Workers’ self-selected postures were quantified in terms of maximum torso flexion and lumbar spine position. Changes in posture were evaluated as a function of time, heart rate and perception of fatigue showing that fatigue was related to poor postural alignment.
3 Tips to Prevent Postural Fatigue at Work
You can beat postural fatigue at work with these three easy-to-implement tips!
1) Posture Reminders: Place a posture reminder at your desk to remind you to sit up straight and have proper posture while working. This will help you stay alert and to have better posture to prevent fatigue and back pain. For a Posture Reminder, you can place a sticker on your computer or at your desk that reminds you to ‘check your posture’ throughout the day.
2) Stand Up to Fatigue: To prevent fatigue and slumped posture, try standing up! If you have a stand up desk great, if not, what can you do while standing with your current workplace design? For example, can you plug in headphones to your phone and take a walk while talking on the phone? Can you stand up while doing data entry or doing afternoon staff meetings on your feet?
3) Take Frequent Posture Breaks: To prevent slouched shoulders take a posture break every hour for 30 seconds. To perform a Posture Break pull your shoulders and arms back, push your chest out, and drop your head back. Stretch in this position to reverse flexor dominant posture.
Resnick, Marc. “Postural changes due to fatigue.” Computers & industrial engineering 31.1-2 (1996): 491-494.
Thibault, R. et al. (2014) Posture alters human resting-state. Cortex, Science Direct, 58 p. 199-205.