A Look into Common Postural Problems with Sedentary Jobs

Pay attention to how you sit or stand at work to stay pain free

Hanna Kim - February 5, 2019

Over 80% of us experience back pain at some point in our lives. Between work and play, many Americans spend a large portion of their days indoors, which reinforces a sedentary lifestyle. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey found in recent decades, the average American spends 87% of their time indoors and an additional 6% in an enclosed vehicle (on average).

We may not notice how we aggravate these postural issues when we spend most of our time sitting in one position, and many of us don’t take enough time each day to rebalance with stretches and strengthening exercises. Our bodies want to work as efficiently as possible, and when we are sedentary for long periods of time, our muscles relax to exert less energy, giving way to gravity

Over time, these issues can become more exaggerated, causing chronic pain, and when we go long enough without corrective measures, we can experience permanent, long-lasting issues.

An easy test to identify the issues in your own body is to have a coworker or friend record you as you walk in a straight line. Walk up and down a line several times to prevent yourself from self-correcting during the diagnostic so you can see what your normal gait is. Watch the recording and see if you notice any of these postural issues.

Postural Problem: Forward Head Tilt

Forward head tilt is sometimes referred to as “text neck” or “tech neck” because this movement pattern is encouraged by staring down at device screens for prolonged periods of times. Forward head tilt is an imbalance between the front and back side of our neck and shoulders and is commonly experienced as pain and tension along the neck, where the upper trapezius attaches.
The further our heads jut out away from our shoulders, the worse the forward head posture is. Notice when you get absorbed in an elaborate spreadsheet or lengthy email, your head creeps in forward and down into the screen. When our heads are properly aligned, our ears should be directly over our shoulders. If you notice forward head tilt in your walking assessment, make a deliberate effort to slide your head back above your shoulders day to day.

Postural Problem: Rounded Shoulders

Take a closer look at your hands in your walking assessment - do you more often see your thumbs facing the camera or the knuckles of your hands? If you see your knuckles, your shoulders are rounding in.

Rounded shoulders are a postural issue that presents when tight, overdeveloped pectoral muscles continually pull your shoulders into internal rotation. This movement pattern is reinforced by poor posture while holding your arms out to type.

To fix this postural problem, sit up straight with shoulders over hips to reduce the imbalanced pull as you work. Use a foam roller or tennis ball to massage your pecs before stretching your chest.

Postural Problem: Hunchback

Hunchback can be most easily identified from a side view. Notice the curvature of your thoracic spine, which starts at the base of your neck. If you notice your spine forming a “C” shape, you may have a hunchback, which can form over time in tandem with rounded shoulders due to frequently sitting with bad posture.

Your upper spine rounds forward as your chest muscles contract and comparatively weaker upper back muscles, including your rotator cuff and mid-traps overstretch to compensate for the forwards pull.

Postural Problem: Forward Hip Tilt

Low back pain is often a symptom of forward hip tilt. When we’re sitting at work for long periods of time each day, our muscles tend to sink further into a relaxed position. Our core muscles disengage, leading to an overarching of the low back and overstretching of our abdominals. Long periods of sitting also affects the lower half of our bodies - the hip flexors on the front side of our hips are in a constant state of flexion, which prevents our glutes and hamstrings from properly activating.

Get up to stretch and mobilize your spinal muscles and hip flexors throughout the day. Consistent exercise to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals helps keep your body balanced.

These common postural issues exemplify how different muscle groups are interconnected and show how the body is designed to work together. The combination of staying desk-bound for extended periods of time at work and not getting enough movement and exercise aggravates symptoms of pain, tension, and stiffness. Stay tuned for a follow up on practicing better posture through regular movement like desk-chair yoga at work.


Optimize Your Workplace with the Latest Trends in Workplace Wellness in 2019

How has corporate wellness changed throughout the years? Adopt the latest and greatest wellness trends for a healthy and productive work environment.

Hanna Kim - January 29, 2019

The Emergence of Work-Life Balance
We could consider Henry Ford’s decision in 1926 to reduce the past norm of work six days a week to the five-day workweek for his automobile manufacturing plants as a sort of corporate wellness initiative. However, bluntly put by Ford himself, these measures in place with the intention of moving the economy forward through capitalism, as "people who have more leisure must have more clothes,...eat a greater variety of food,... [and] require more transportation in vehicles."
Ford also expected higher rates of productivity from his employees - while they would be working fewer hours, they were expected to work harder and more efficiently during their shortened shifts. Still, most employees were happy to do so in exchange for additional free time to shop and take vacations on the emerging notion of the weekend.
This was a key point in history where work-life balance began to emerge for the average American worker. Ford said, “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” Manufacturers across the country began to adopt the Monday-to-Friday work week, which almost a hundred years later, is still the norm for many US employees.
Health is Wealth for Employees and Employers
Physical health was an important focus for workplace wellbeing. The creation of safer working conditions was the primary objective in the 19th Century, followed by a shift to appropriate interventions against work-related illnesses or injuries. These safety measures (many which had to be fought for) are now standard practices. This was followed by sick pay and employer-based medical insurance, which at first were only a reactionary measure for when employees were in the
direst conditions.
Slowly, workplace benefits became more preventative in nature, starting with programs for smoking cessation, weight loss, and exercise created to stop employees from reaching a crisis point. What we know as corporate wellness today began with employers starting to realize considering employee health actually improves the work environment as well as saves money on healthcare costs.
The Focus is on Proactive Wellness

Healthcare policy expert and past governor of Oregon Dr. John Kitzhaber presented on the factors that influence your health at the World Healthcare Congress. As you can see from one of his slides, the largest factors we have control over are not the healthcare we receive, but our behavior and the social context in which we live, which may come as a surprise. Most of us spend a good portion of our waking hours at work and consider work as part of our identity. Healthier habits can be encouraged at the workplace, which makes up a big part of the social context for many of us.
As the public continues to recognize and grows more comfortable with the idea that mental, emotional, and behavioral factors are linked to physical wellbeing, experts are noticing companies have begun to follow suit in offering wellness benefits that focus on total well-being. In the past five years, we’ve begun to see a larger shift of workplace wellbeing expanding to more than just physical aspects of health.
Corporate wellness has become an important pillar of many successful businesses to encompass the many factors of employee health, including programs for mental and financial stressors to improve wellbeing and work performance in the long term, according to one HR Director, Liz Walker. Proactive wellness program ideas like the ones below help employees build resilience, boost morale, and help people lead happier and healthier lives so they can thrive at work.
  • Champion Mental Wellbeing
For a long time, mental health issues were a source of shame and largely hidden in the workplace. 84% of employees today experience symptoms of poor mental health and many individuals wait between 6 to 8 years before receiving the proper mental health treatment needed, according to Center for Discovery. Employers can do their part to break the stigma of mental health by championing mental health as part of a workplace wellness program.
  • Spotlight on Sleep
Sleep impacts everything including learning, memory, emotions, cardiovascular health and immunity. Getting a good night’s rest helps employees be more productive. Conversely, sleep deficiency leads to diminished performance, costing employers over $400 billion each year, according to one 2016 study. Employers have been promoting better sleep by educating employees on the negative impacts of sleep deprivation, creating spaces for rest at the office, or offering flexible hours that work with individual’s sleep schedules. 
  • Prevent Workplace Burnout
A workplace survey by Gallup found 44% of employees reported feelings of burnout at work, leading to reduced engagement, increased error, and safety incidents, and lost productivity, affecting employers across all industries. Employers can prevent employee burnout by creating regular opportunities to relax and recharge by making room for mid-day breaks, managing proper workloads, allowing for flexible schedules, and inviting regular use of PTO.
  • Encourage Mindfulness and Self-care
Self-care was one of the top mobile app categories of 2018, with downloads for apps like Fabulous, Shine, 10% Happier and Headspace on the rise. Mindfulness practices help us become more aware of how our bodies react to stress so we can better manage our lives day-to-day as well as deal with unexpected events with more tenacity. Many top companies are working to cut workplace stress and boost productivity with mindful practices like workplace yoga.
Corporate wellness has continued to evolve to accommodate the changing values of the public, and companies have benefited from creating more positive work environments and nurturing successful employees. A focus on employee wellness is more pertinent now than ever, as younger Millennial and Generation Z workers continue to enter and advance in the workforce.
Younger employees already spend more on self-care measures compared to older generations, and are more knowledgeable on the impact of workplace stress on their personal well-being. In order to stay an employer of choice for current employees and new recruits, companies must cater to these important needs and go beyond traditional corporate wellness into the future.


Why It's Time to Switch to Tea

Which Type Is Best For You?

By Carolina Cuartas - January 18, 2019

Are you looking to cut down on caffeine, improve your health, and slim down for the new year? The simplest way to make that happen is to switch your coffee to tea!

Many people are surprised to learn that all teas, white, green, oolong, black and
pu-erh are made from the leaves of the same species. Each leaf holds similar, but some of their benefits vary. Learn which leaf suits your needs the most.

“Believe it or not, all tea is made from one plant, known as Camellia sinensis. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow into a small tree… The plants can live for up to 100 years or more and the leaves are harvested year round.”

White Tea

White tea is the least processed. White tea is not oxidized or rolled but simply withered and dried by steaming. They release the least amount of caffeine of all teas, generally ranging from 10-15 milligrams per 8 oz cup. 

Some benefits of White Tea include:

  • It’s rich in antioxidants 
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Helps you lose weight and combat skin aging
  • Has compounds that may fight cancer
  • May help protect against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease

Green Tea

Many say that Green Tea is the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s an unoxidized tea that is heated earlier in the production process denaturing the enzymes in the leaf that cause oxidation before the leaves are able to oxidize.

Some benefits of Green Tea include:

  • Contains bioactive compounds that improve brain function
  • Increases fat burning and improves physical performance
  • Protects your brain in old age, lowering your risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • Can kill bacteria, which improves dental health and lowers risk of infection
  • May lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Rich in antioxidants and may help you live longer

Oolong Tea

The rarest of all tea Oolong tea represents only 2% of the world's tea. Oolong Tea is semi-fermented, lies between unfermented Green Tea and fermented Black Tea.

Some benefits of Oolong Tea include:

  • Helps prevent diabetes
  • Improves brain function and health health
  • Promotes tooth and bone strength
  • Helps you lose weight
  • May help relieve eczema

Black Tea    

Black tea is withered, fully oxidized (fermented) and dried. Black tea yields a hearty, amber-colored brew. It is often blended with other plants for different flavors, such as Earl Grey, English breakfast or Chai. It’s stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine than other teas, but less caffeine than coffee.

Some benefits of Black Tea include:

  • Has antioxidant properties
  • Boost heart health and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol
  • Improve gut health and lowers blood sugar
  • Help reduce blood pressure and risk of stroke
  • Improves brain health and focus
  • Help reduce the risk of cancer



Revamp Your Workspace for Productivity with These Organization Hacks

Use these tips to create the best workspace for you

Hanna Kim - January 4, 2019

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be hard to get back to work feeling focused. One way to help you get back up and running is by organizing your office so it can meet your needs. Set your office space up for success with these tips for creating a productive work environment.

Purge Clutter

Psychology research supports the metaphor of clean space for a clear mind. A 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that people have more difficulty concentrating on a task when there is clutter. The visual cortex, which receives and processes sensory nerve information from your eyes can get overwhelmed when there are too many irrelevant objects around. Clutter can make it harder for someone to focus and perform a task efficiently.

Depending on the size of your office or cubicle and last deep cleaning, it may take a few hours or a few days to begin organizing your office. Apply this trick for cleaning out your office space if you’re the type of person who has trouble letting go of your belongings: Find 5 unnecessary items each week to either throw out, recycle or donate. Feel free to start small with items like an annoying pen that always writes streaky. Parsing out an unpleasant task into smaller pieces can make it more manageable if you’re feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to do.

Clean Up Your Computer

Since so much work is done on electronically these days, it’s important to declutter your online workspace too. Delete old files you definitely don’t need and create annual archives or folders for documents you may need to reference occasionally in the future. Deleting cookies on your web browser also helps save space on your computer. Check out Kim Komando’s guide to deleting cookies for some popular browsers.

Keep your browser tabs open to a minimum; it slows your computer down as well as creates room for more diversion from your work. Internet restriction apps can help you from lurking around social media and news sites that are easy distractions.

Specify Parking Designations for Your Supplies

Having a set place for your office supplies can help you stay organized as you go about your tasks each week. Figure out what supplies you use daily and need to keep on your desk. Things you only need a few times a week should be stored in drawers or cabinets.

Make sure to have trash and recycling near your desk to prevent junk from piling up. Instead of having to run to the other side of the room or end of the hall with a months’ worth of junk mail and memos, you can keep your space clutter-free. Plan to shred any confidential documents on a regular basis by adding it as a recurring task on your to-do list as well.

Keep Proper Body Mechanics in Mind

How you sit each day can affect your productivity at work. Improper body mechanics can cause problems both in the short term and long term. 80% of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, commonly after a long day of sitting at work. It’s hard not to slump into your seat, shoulders rounding further in and head drifting closer to your monitor or documents as your body fatigues. In the long term, these poor postural habits can negatively affect the curvature of your spine with issues like a hunched back, forward hip tilt, and forward head posture more recently known as “text neck.”

Regularly attending yoga classes can help you familiarize yourself with where you hold your body in space so that you are more aware of when you stop practicing proper body mechanics at work. Good posture and ergonomically placed office equipment can help you feel less bodily pain so you can be more productive.

Have a happy and productive start to the new year!


Self Care Resolutions You Can Keep In 2019

By Hanna Kim - December 31, 2018

The new year is upon us in just a few hours. Right now is a time to reflect back on what’s brought us joy and what we’ve accomplished in 2018, as well as acknowledge the things that may have gone wrong and can be improved on. It may seem cliché, but the start of a new year is truly the perfect time to set up the goals that help us get towards the future we want to create for ourselves.

New Year's statistics show that only 9.2 percent of us successfully carry out our resolutions each year. While it’s great to have ambition, it can be tempting to set too big a goal, or feel held down by too many goals. Unreasonable resolutions can lead to more stress that makes us feel bad about ourselves.

A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology on how habits are formed found that the average person takes 66 days to break out of an old habit, and it takes even more time to master a new, better pattern. Start with small self-care goals to help you in the long run. Making a small change in your daily routine can help you create new patterns of action. Consider trying one of these subtle positive changes for a healthier you, year-round.

Express Your Gratitude

Start by expressing gratitude for the people and things you have that make life great. Try making a list each day of three things that made your day better, no matter how big or small. 

Something like being unable to find parking in downtown on Friday night or waiting for a delayed package may trigger agitation. We can slowly rewire our brains to not get as immediately irritated, or even focus on the good: we’re happy to have friends to meet for drinks or lucky to soon be opening that present from mom.

Say No to Social Media

Turn your fear of missing out; commonly known as FOMO, into JOMO, the “joy of missing out.” Instead of scrolling through your Facebook page to see how your peers are having a blast without you, make room for joy in your own life.

Pick a time of day to plan a ban social media use. Make a promise to yourself to eat dinner each night without scrolling through Instagram or not check the news after 9:00PM. Newer research consistently shows how social media overuse can lead to sensory boredom, as well as make it harder to get sleep due to screens’ emitting blue light and stressful content. 

Maintain Good Self-Care Habits

Remember to make time to maintain your self-care routine throughout the new year. Continue with an exercise regimen, and get outdoors when you can. Especially in the winter, getting enough sunlight and fresh air is important, especially if you are prone to suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. If extreme temperatures prohibit you from getting outside, do an indoor workout in the morning by sunny window.

Gift yourself a massage to help yourself unwind. More Americans now view massage therapy as self-care than luxury service; over 70% get one primarily for medical or stress-related reasons. The science of touch has received more attention in recent years; theTouch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School has now conducted over 100 studies on the benefits of massage against depression and anxiety, reduced stress hormones, and increased immunity and pain relief.