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Medicine News Science

Posture Affects Standing, and Not Just the Physical Kind (nytimes.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes: As somebody who sits in front of a computer most of the day, and has for a number of years, this article at the NY Times struck a bit close to home. It compiles a list of the negative consequences of poor posture. There are the obvious ones, like neck and muscle pain, joint problems, digestive issues, and so forth. But there are social problems, too. We're probably all aware that slouching can give a worse first impression than standing straight, but there's also evidence it can influence who a mugger picks to rob, and how you feel. "In a study of 110 students at San Francisco State University, half of whom were told to walk in a slumped position and the other half to skip down a hall, the skippers had a lot more energy throughout the day (abstract)." So take this as your yearly reminder, fellow keyboard-hunchers — sit up straight, move around every so often, and maybe invest in that standing desk.
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Posture Affects Standing, and Not Just the Physical Kind

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  • Chairs are designed for creatures with an anatomy that couldn't possibly resemble anything humanoid. In order to sit comfortably in my chair at work I have to be on the very edge of the seat, with my back at a 45 degree angle toward my desk. If I sit all the way back into the seat, my back will conform the shape of the back rest, which for some reason is the S curve that you see in severe scoliosis cases.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tried it for a bit only to find out that I cannot concentrate as well when I am standing. Is it just me?

    • It's not just you, but it is just a subset of the population.
      At my computer I'm sitting, but I stand to go over documents with coworkers. Changing up seems to help.
      • I dislike standing to work as well. I can think while pacing though, so generally I break up the sitting by taking breaks to walk through the building (we have a massive highbay that takes a good 5 minutes to cross) when I need to think without writing code.
        • I used to work in a cubicle and would often have co-workers make fun of me because I would stand, stretch, and do calisthenics when able {like talking on the phone}.

          This continued for a while until one of my much younger co-workers had a back issues, afterwards a lot of co-workers where doing the same and stopped making fun.

          I still do my standing, stretching, and calisthenics but no one notices because I can close the office door.

      • by pollarda ( 632730 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @01:52PM (#51209785)
        If you think standing helps when looking at documents with your co-workers, this study clearly shows that you will gain an additional advantage if you analyze your documents while skipping. You will have a clearer mind and feel much more refreshed after doing so. Additionally, if you do this while analyzing documents with your coworkers, your choice will benefit your coworkers as well. If they don't want to skip with you, they will be "left behind" in the workplace.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I was not an occifer but I spent a long time at OCS in Quantico. You learn a lot about posture. How you carry yourself is one of the greatest impressions you can make - even if the other person isn't consciously noticing it. You can add to that tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions, quality and fit of clothing, hygiene, and hair styles. They all factor into how people opine about you (even if they shouldn't). This factors into your success and failure - regardless of validity.

    • You might get improved results if you persist: it took me months to get used to standing to work, particularly when sustained concentration was required as in coding. I eventually bought a standing desk for home and (about six months after starting) feel much better for the change. One counter-intuitive suggestion: try standing on a wobble board as you work. The lightest touch of a hand on the desk will soon be enough to stabilise you - there will be a lot going on in your lower body & core but you won
    • Tried it for a bit only to find out that I cannot concentrate as well when I am standing. Is it just me?

      It takes a while to get used to. You should get a leaning "chair", so you are not standing unsupported. There are several to chose from. I built my own with some scrap lumber and some spare cushions. Adjust your desk height so your forearms are parallel to the ground, and adjust your monitor so your eye level is about 1/3 down from the top. I stand on these wedge cushions [amazon.com].

      Start with just an hour or two per day, then work your way up. I use my standing desk about four hours per day. Few people stand f

  • first thing is to Not Look Like Food

    second if you have had any training at all in emotional control DBT , Anger Management then you will find out that actions/attitude can influence Mood.

    its also the Pack "chain of command" thing act like an alpha and folks might treat you like an alpha

  • by MatthiasF ( 1853064 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @01:40PM (#51209699)
    They just recently had a rather large study over 16 years prove sitting has no impact.

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/... [oxfordjournals.org]

    Just getting tired of all the fearmongering. Medical science told everyone fat was evil, so everyone swapped to using sugar instead and started an obesity epidemic. Decades later, studies find that fat was fine and had no ill effects. Eggs, milk, gluten, all the same trends repeating themselves.

    There comes a point when you can't trust any medical study on diets or broad behaviors impacting mortality.
    • Yes slouch with pride! ;-)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      To your attention:
      a. The original paper is from 2012, in a not-so-well-known journal called Biofeedback(TM). I doubt it has a high impact factor, I managed to find none.
      b. I doubt how much you can learn from such artificial movements which involve external interference with the person's natural behavior.
      c. The direction of causality may be easily confused. Does feeling happy make us move more or the other way around?
      d. The methodology of asking people how they feel, after you have made them do something wh

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      No kidding. If I die, oh well. I care not!

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @01:41PM (#51209705)

    The study doesn't compare slouching to standing straight - it compares slouching to skipping.

    And I guarantee you a guy skipping down the street is going to draw more attention from muggers and other thugs.

    • "See that guy? He's crazy! Let's go for an easier target." Crazy = unpredictable = bad target. On the other hand, I've been told they probably avoid me because I look like I might rip someone's heart out with my bare hands and eat it, just to see if it tastes like bacon. So skipping is not always necessary to be a bad target.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      The 'skipping' study had nothing to do with how others percieve you. It was a study on how body posture affects low energy levels caused by depression.

  • In a nine sentence abstract the word subjective is used five times, yet the title is "How Body Postures Influence Your Energy Level".

    Science

  • As somebody who sits in front of a computer most of the day...

    http://abstrusegoose.com/354 [abstrusegoose.com]

    This one was horrifyingly accurate when I first found it.

  • Or just skip down the hall on the way to and back from the restroom...

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Hence, the origin of "Skip to the loo, my darlin'."

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @02:21PM (#51209977) Journal
    We focus so much on the negative consequences of sitting around all day because of the general nature of the audience on this site. But standing all day leads to a number of foot and vascular problems. Unlike the problems of sitting, which can be offset by a decent chair, paying attention to posture, and a few minutes of exercise after work some of those foot and vascular problems aren't really curable.

    You pop a vain in your leg because you've been on your feet all day and the only thing they can really do about it is inject saline or something similar causing the vein to collapse and the blood to re-route.

    And as someone who has worked full time on his feet in the past and developed pain in my feet. I assure you, a podiatrist will speak with confidence but the treatment effectiveness is so far from science that it is effectively voodoo. The foot, calf, all the tendons ligaments, and all those very very very many bones involved is extremely complicated. For 45% of people you can solve a lot of the foot problems by stepping on the machine at walmart and getting custom footpads, for maybe 5-10% the complicated extra braces or specialized shoes, etc from a podiatrist will take care of it when that fails (and cost a great deal of money), for the rest the only solution to sit down.

    Trust me, if you haven't spent a few months on your feet for 6+hrs 4-5x a week and don't have arch problems you will after doing so for a few months.
    • by unity ( 1740 )
      "Trust me, if you haven't spent a few months on your feet for 6+hrs 4-5x a week and don't have arch problems you will after doing so for a few months."

      I've been working at a standup desk for over a decade now with no problems whatsoever; in fact, it helped fixed up all my poor posture problems from years of sitting at desks. Of course I work standing up mostly barefoot, in flat sandals or flat simple shoes -- no fancy pads or shoes.
      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        I think it also depends on what you stand on. If your working in a warehouse or factory with concrete floors, it can take a serious toll.
        I used to work on a factory floor, part of my work area had a raised wooden floor. After six weeks or so, getting on my feet after sitting or laying felt like I was pushing on a bruise. Stepping from the concrete floor to the raised wooden floor was like walking onto a cloud.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] at least according to the MST3K guys.
  • Standing desks are no better than sitting desks. Maintaining any position for a long period of time is harmful. They key here is movement.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Standing desks are no better than sitting desks. Maintaining any position for a long period of time is harmful. They key here is movement.

      Except with a standing desk you do move around more than if you are in a chair. You naturally shift your weight and position when you aren't confined to a chair.

      The problem is that is that a standing desk a really tough transition if you're carrying extra weight. I built one for myself (have you seen how much those things cost?) a couple years ago and found I didn't like it. It put way too much stress on my feet and legs, even with anti-fatigue mats and support hose. Then I lost 60 pounds and now I use

      • with a standing desk you do move around more than if you are in a chair. You naturally shift your weight and position when you aren't confined to a chair.

        True, and this is a particular benefit for anyone with even slight ADHD tendencies. I didn't realize how much I hated prolonged sitting until I got myself a standing desk (in my case, it's a coffee table on top of a desk). Besides just shifting your weight, there are all kinds of motions you can do -- I'm basically kicking my feet around while typing right now. The downside is that I now avoid sitting events such as theatre and movies even more, but OTOH the occasional sitting feels like a proper relief for

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          I found that when I used a standing desk I tended to lean onto my keyboard rest and it seemed to exacerbate my occasional wrist pain.
          Yeah, your wrists should hover...
  • I've always had decent posture, stood up straight, and colleagues at one past job wondered if I had a military background. Figures. I try to give myself an excuse to stand up and walk around every hour or two. Coffee is helpful. :-)

    Like all things, it's a matter of balance. I'm tall (6'1") and if I didn't have good posture I'd be in trouble.

    I see an epidemic of slouching people with incipient dowager's humps from constantly leaning over their smart phone...

    ...laura

  • by thestuckmud ( 955767 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @03:53PM (#51210697)

    I agree that posture has significant effects on well being and how we are perceived, but the images I had as a kid of good posture were misguided. Military attention and finishing school book-balanced-on-your-head stiffness are not good example of ideal posture. They are too tense, stressing shoulders and lower back, among other things.

    Good posture is balanced and flexible. Imaging partially hanging from a string attached to a point straight above the spine on the top of your head, with relaxed (not slouched) shoulders and back. Instead of rigidly holding a position and pivoting the body at one point, allow the hips and back, legs, shoulder, etc to adapt like an inverted pendulum to maintain balance -- not wiggly, just adaptable.

    I hope this doesn't come off as too didactic, but it took me 50 years to begin to learn to move properly and it makes a big difference. At least for me.

  • I have a diploma in performing arts which I got in the 90ies. '99 was my fittest year, I had completely compensated the nerd posture problem including ditching my back pain and the need for medical insoles and felt great. I did a career switch into IT, with my posture getting worse again. In 2008 I picked up Tango dancing and improved my posture on the fast track again, with people close to me wondering how strait I stand.

    I can attest: We are cousins of primates - how we stand and walk severely affects how

  • An actress friend of mind recommended this to me years ago to help me with a back problem. The Alexander Technique [alexandertechnique.com] provides gently guided body awareness training. Something performers often need to have. Helped me improve my gate after surgery. Very different deal than yoga.
  • From the article: "Standing with chest pushed forward and buttocks pushed back (the so-called Donald Duck posture that exaggerates the lumbar curve). "

    Interestingly, I read an article about a photographer who noticed, while taking images of indigenous people, this exact posture. What she also noticed was that there were 80 year old women bending over from the waist with no apparent pain while picking vegetables. This diverged into reviewing old plates in medical textbooks which showed a much greater cu

    • by CaTfiSh ( 724 )
      Oh well, strike that. I started writing from memory and recalled enough to find the article, but upon reading it anew, I was off on the peripheral details. The theory is as stated though.
  • That muggers/thieves will pick people who slouch and look down/avoid eye contact, has been reported on before, and It's not false. Such posture/behavior telegraphs that you're a target easy for the picking, not likely to fight back. Walking upright, being willing to make eye contact is something people with at least some sense of self worth, etc. do, and make you a much less attractive target.

If all else fails, lower your standards.

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