Performance, productivity and……….Posture?

productivity

The newest most powerful productivity hack could be standing right in front of you, quite literally! Our posture plays much more of a role than first thought and the science is clearly telling us why.

Task orientated people will agree they are most productive in the mornings. You’ve had a good night’s sleep, feel refreshed and the mind is clear to tackle the day ahead. In fact many of the world’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders advise scheduling key priority tasks in the mornings.

But where does the drive and productivity go by the afternoon and is there a way of bucking this trend of decreased efficiency?

Well the good news one simple free solution could change the way we work forever.

Lack of movement and prolonged sitting have a global effect on our health, much more than just causing muscle tightness and an aching low back. So much so that Dr. Camelia Davtyan, clinical professor and director of women’s health at the UCLA,  stated that “Sitting is the new smoking”.

So let us have a look at what sitting does to our body and more importantly our brain. A study conducted by Harvard University looked at the effect of a slouched sitting posture compared to a expansive upright posture (standing, shoulders back and chest out). The results were fascinating. Slouched sitting postures promoted feelings of inferiority, sadness and depression whilst expansive postures increased feelings of confidence and leadership abilities. The standing postures actually altered participant’s hormone levels by decreasing the stress hormone Cortisol and increasing levels of Testosterone. So something as simple as standing tall and pushing your chest out can change the chemistry in the brain. This theory known as Embodied Cognition explains how the mind body relationship is a two way street. The emotional experiences have a direct influence on the function of body and visa-versa the postures we adopt have a direct influence on our mood, concentration and productivity.

The lack of movement associated with prolonged sitting also plays a role in our brains stimulation. Nobel prize winning neurobiologist Roger Sperry discovered that 90% of the stimulation of the brain comes from movement of the spine. Prolonged sitting in a slouched position reduces this stimulation drastically. Conversely walking and gentle stretching stimulates the brain. Making movement a regular part of our day is is key to keeping productive.

Poor posture and slouching also has effects on our breathing. Over time prolonged sitting causes us to adopt a shallow breathing pattern resulting in a reduced oxygen intake. Common signs of this are feeling tired and sluggish mid afternoon and yawning in the middle of the day.

The running theme in all these studies is prolonged sitting decreases how well our brain and body functions. It’s like trying to drive a sports car with the handbrake on. So what small daily disciplines can we implement to take the handbrake off and tap into increased productivity and tangible results?

Here are my top five productivity hacks for ultimate performance and consistent productivity.

  • Implement the 30 for 30 rule – Move for 30 seconds every 30 minutes as an absolute minimum. Break your day into 30 minute chunks. Set a reminder and get up and move for 30 seconds. This movement stimulates and wakes the brain.
  • Stand for attention! Where possible work standing up. If holding a team meeting or taking a lengthy call do these standing. This reduces the postural fatigue making it less likely you will slouch when you sit down.
  • Chest up and out. Whenever you walk through a doorway raise your sternum by 2 cm. This small change in posture increases lung volume and releases hormones which increase confidence.
  • Utilise your lunch time. Changing your environment and moving for 20-30 minutes will make you more productive than if you worked straight through your lunch. The movement stimulates the brain, the new environment takes your mind off work preventing mental fatigue.
  • Box Breathe. When feeling tired or stressed close your eyes and breathe deeply from the diaphragm. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold for a final 4 seconds before repeating 4 times. This not only increases oxygen uptake which will perk you up but also reduces the release of stress hormones.

As Jeff Olsen famously said “The following are easy to do and easy not to do”. These productivity hacks need to be replicated daily for tangible results. Don’t keep these a secret. Share them with your colleagues and enjoy improved posture, productivity and performance.

 

The Secret to Long Term Back Health

healthy-back

Back pain and injury is one of the leading reasons people take painkiller and costs our economy $ Billions every year from time off work. In an age where we can land probes on Jupiter, decipher the human genetic code and restore sight with the use of stem cells how is it that we cannot prevent something as simple as back pain.

back pain stats

Describing a symptom like back pain as “simple” may be misleading and although the causes of spinal dysfunction can be varied the basic mechanism, more often than not, is a reasonably simple one. One that if addressed early can be prevented and if understood can lead to long term spinal health.

As I have alluded to in previous articles the key to a healthy spine is movement. But more importantly consistency of movement.  It’s the daily lack of movement that our back is subjected to that is dangerous and leads to pain and dysfunction.

Our brain, muscles and joints adapt to the things we do every day. Muscles that are only used through a small range of motion, over time, will become short and tight. Muscles that aren’t used at all will become inactive, weak and ineffective. This will affect the movement and stability of the joints the muscles are attached to.

 

So what movements are you doing regularly and what patterns are you laying down for your body to remember?

The main culprit is prolonged sitting. The list of detrimental effects caused by sitting is long and not limited to the muscles and joints. Sitting causes the spine to be unsafely loaded leading to tightening of spine and hip muscles. These muscles which should be working to protect the spine from overload become ineffective.  All these actions are not conducive with a spine that can deal with the demands of daily activity.

 

Solution

The good news is the solution to the problem is completely simple but does require a change of mindset. A change to a routine of consistent and regular movement. Walking, exercise, hydration and stretching. Here’s some top tips to make this transition easy for you.

  • Monitor your steps and activity. Fitbit’s are great for this. They monitor how many steps you are doing per day and when you’re most active / inactive. iPhones now come with an inbuilt pedometer which you can access through the ‘Health’ app.
Pedometer App for iPhone

Pedometer App for iPhone

  • Involve walking in your commute to work. If getting public transport then hop off a stop early and walk the last 10 minutes to work. Do the same for the return trip home. If driving the car park it an extra few blocks away.
  • Get up every 20 mins at work. Sitting for longer than 20 mins is the critical period for the spine. You are more likely to encounter long term injury if you frequently sit for longer than this period. So get up often. Put the printer on the other side of the office so you have to get up and walk.
  • 15 mins of mobility / stretching a week. Yoga classes are great for keeping the joints supple, flexible and healthy. If you’re not a yoga sort of person then gentle stretching at home or as part of your normal exercise routine is easy and effective.

 

The list could go on for pages but the key is consistency. The small habits you do every day shape your future health. Start small. Implement one of these every day for a fortnight. Then add another to the list and so on. Don’t treat this like a detox or fad diet where you focus on it for a month then slip back into back habits. Make changes and try and keep them.

consistancy quote

 

For more information or to ask one of our chiropractors a specific questions please email us at chiroexercises@gmail.com