Posture PSA

To many, quarantine has served to worsen previously existing habits when it comes to posture.

Eltham Osteopathy Clinic

To many, quarantine has served to worsen previously existing habits when it comes to posture.

Emily Eslao, Photojournalist, Cartoonist

COVID-19 incited a plethora of causes and effects in our day-to-day living. Some, such as digital learning and social distancing, are more prominent. Meanwhile others, such as posture, may go unnoticed. 

 

The correlation may seem far-fetched, but evidence suggests that overall posture of individuals has significantly worsened since COVID-19 and the subsequent time spent in quarantine (LA Times). In order to safely social distance, large populations are working and attending school from home. Through digital means this is made possible, but over time any unchecked tendencies can take a significant toll on the body.

 

Long hours spent in front of a computer screen often lead to poor posture and resulting pain in the neck, lower back, or shoulders. According to Fortaleza, hours of bad posture “causes an increase of tension and workload” in these particular areas, which are “not supposed to receive that much stress.” Handheld devices also contribute to sore necks and hunched backs, as individuals slouch to view the smaller screens. 

 

In addition, staying at home restricts many of the previously available options to get proper exercise. Usually daily aerobic activities can offset the lethargy of prolonged sitting; P.E., school sports, or even walking to classes between periods can greatly benefit overall health. Lockdown essentially eliminated this need to simply get from place to place- other than maybe from our bedrooms to the kitchen. 

 

Without the structure of school or work, it is much easier to fall into the habit of slouching through the working hours, the time watching TV, or the endless Zoom meetings; it is no surprise that some students may struggle with falling into these habits. “Because of quarantine,” Emily Molendyk (10) states that “[her] posture is as straight as [she] is.” Molendyk continued on to comment how quarantine further worsened sitting position, with the temptation of “staying in bed.” 

 

I myself have struggled with the daily task of maintaining pre-quarantine standards, because it has come to the point where it is entirely feasible to go the whole day receiving online instruction from bed. Realistically, with digital learning and the dramatic increase of time spent at home, it is impossible to completely abstain from our devices- even for the sake of our health. 

 

Still it is important to recognize these effects because there are real, possibly long-term consequences to bad posture. Studies correlate bad posture with back pain, body pain, poor digestion, compromised cardiovascular health, impaired circulation, balance, and even mood health (Gritdaily). Likewise, merely sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar (Gritdaily). It is perhaps more concerning for the growing bodies of teenage high schoolers, who are “more likely to experience” any resulting “deformities in the spine or neck” (LA Times). 

 

Fortunately there are many tips and methods proven to combat bad posture and its repercussions. The first- and likely most important- step is to be aware of your posture throughout the day. Once mindful of your habits, it is possible to correct a hunched back, rounded shoulders, or jutting head before they become an issue. It is greatly beneficial to straighten your spine and bring back your shoulders from time to time, taking short but periodic breaks from your desk to stretch or walk.  

 

Experts, such as orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rahul Shah, recommends a flat workspace, so that it is possible to look either straight ahead or down nearly 10 degrees. This also applies to handheld devices, as phones or tablets should be viewed from above the chest to prevent neck strain. 

 

Those who experience chronic pain should seek professional help beyond tips and tricks, but ultimately it is up to the individual to keep up the constant effort. With quarantine dragging on indefinitely, it is important to be mindful of posture and its unassuming significance in our daily lives.