Posture Powerplays

a woman looking at the mirror

Take a Bite Out of This Employee Benefit by Efrat Cohen November 2, 2022

It is that time of year where employees need to decide on and sign up for employee benefits. Many wonder if they actually took advantage of their well checks with their primary care physician and dentist. According to the ADA (American Dental Association) only 52% of adults reported that they visit their dentist regularly.

Did you know your bite changes over time?
Did you know an imperfect bite or malocclusion can change your posture, balance, and can even affect your dental health?

Reciprocally, our posture can influence our bite. Our teeth give us the stability to help keep our head aligned with our spine. If we are not aligned, our bite will be affected. Furthermore, poor head posture can create pain such TMJ, inflammation in our mouths, and change the position of our teeth and facial muscles.

Let’s take a  look in the mirror:

Is your head forward?

Do you have a head tilt?

Ask yourself:

Am I having frequent headaches?

Am I experiencing jaw pain or tension in my mouth?

Is my mouth open most of the time?

Is it difficult for me to keep my tongue on the roof of my mouth?

If you answered yes to any or most of these questions, it is time to work on your posture and visit your dentist.

man working using a laptop

Tech Neck, Heads Up by Efrat Cohen September 28, 2022

Now that we have returned to the office on some sort of schedule, we often find ourselves with our heads forward with driving to and from work, or while commuting, with use of a cell phone, lap top, tablet, readers, and reading books and newspapers. Multi focal glasses wear can also lead to forward head posture. You may have also found yourself complaining of neck and upper back discomfort or pain during these experiences.

Did you know that use of computer technology, stress, and lack of social support are risk factors for neck pain? (Calik et al., 2020) (Kazeminasab et al., 2022)

Did you know the most common presentation with neck pain is forward head posture? (Mahmoud et al., 2019)

Here are some simple strategies to keep your head upright, in alignment with good posture:

Use a laptop easel for portable technology, books and newspapers. Adjust so the device or reading material is at the right height and distance for reading, with use of good posture.

While driving, with increased traffic and rushing you may find yourself hugging the steering wheel with your head forward. Roll your hips back, bring your shoulders back towards the back of the seat and down, away from your ears, while tucking in your chin. Feel the back of your neck getting longer.

When using your PC, laptop, or tablet try not to lean your weight into your arms. Not only does that put your head forward but also stresses the shoulder neck complex, leading to pain and musculoskeletal injury.

selective focus photo of walking man in black suit carrying a to go cup and briefcase while using his phone

Don’t Fall for This by Efrat Cohen September 21, 2022

The hybrid office is our new work reality. It helps with work life balance. The challenge is any location can be our workplace. We have taken to working in sitting and standing, indoors and outdoors, and even while walking. Are you a “pedextrian” or “smartphone zombie”?

A recent study has found distracted walking injuries increased from 2011 (2184 incidents) to 2019 (4711 incidents). Please don’t work and walk or text and walk!

According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts 2015 report, distracted walking caused over 11,000 injuries between 2000 and 2011. Of all the people injured in distracted walking accidents, more than half were age 40 or younger. Also, falls were responsible for the vast majority of distracted walking injuries, with almost 80 percent of distracted walkers suffering injuries due to falls.

“Do you see what I see?”

Working on the go may seem more efficient to you, but there is some else you need to consider, your glasses. While reading glasses, bi, or multifocal glasses are helpful for reading the screens of your PC, laptop, tablet, cell phone, and watch, they are not helpful while you walk.

Wearing bifocals or multifocal glasses while you walk increases your chances of falling. Get single lens glasses for walking and stairs to decrease your chance of falling by 40% (Haran et al., 2010). So please don’t work and walk or text and walk!

people on a video call

Hybrid Office Ergonomics by Efrat Cohen September 14, 2022

Many companies have recently shifted to the hybrid work model, allowing employees to work in the office and remotely. In doing so, employers are trying to give their employees a better work-life balance. Companies have also redesigned their workplaces to improve productivity and collaboration, creating multi-purpose areas and instituting hot desking.

According to a study performed by Citrix in 2022, 71% of hybrid employees have a stronger connection to their peers and leadership and feel more productive, engaged, and optimistic with their job performance than those who worked in the office or remotely.

Whether you are working at home, at the office, or on the go, it is important you work with ergonomics in mind. Working without a proper workstation, posture and body mechanics will increase your likelihood of pain and injury.

Here are some easy hacks to help you with your set ups:

Practice Sitting Unsupported: Sit towards the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. This will help you activate your posture muscles to keep yourself more upright. (If you are using a standing desk, stand without support.)
Feet Flat on the Floor: instead of crossing your legs, sitting on one leg, having your feet resting or twisted around the base of your chair, or being up on your toes, put your feet flat on the floor. This helps keep you more upright.
Elevate Your Laptop: Use empty boxes from online delivery or a tissue box for your virtual meetings; the camera will be eye level making you look more confident and professional.
Tilt the Screen: Adjust your laptop screen so you can sit or stand upright while working.
Arms Free: Don’t lean into your arms whether they are on the table or on the arm rests. Leaning puts pressure through your arms into your shoulder and neck.

woman in blue suit jacket

Posture Your Employee Happiness by Efrat Cohen September 7, 2022

According to Forbes (Preston, 2017), employee happiness has a significant effect on engagement, productivity, and corporate financial success. It is key to satisfy employees’ need to grow in order for employees to remain engaged, productive, and retained. Unfortunately, many companies overlook the people doing the work and how their work is done. Not only is it important to assess work flow processes, it is also important to assess how employees physically do their job.

There are several ways to assess employee happiness. Employee satisfaction surveys are most popular but there is an often overlooked indicator which points to an employee’s happiness- their posture. Not only does posture demonstrate one’s mood and attitude, it also influences employee attitude and behavior. Upright posture in sitting and standing improves happiness, influences positive outlook, and productivity (Miragall et al, 2020).

Employee happiness starts with you. Here are a few tips to improve your employees’ happiness:

Improve your happiness. When you improve your outlook, it improves your employees’ outlook on their work. Set an example and improve your posture.
Improve employer-employee relationships. Find ways to improve your relationships with employees and relationships amongst employees by making posture improvement a team effort.
Be grateful of your employees’ work. Recognize and reward your employees with their successes with better posture.

In creating a more positive work culture, organizations need to recognize the link between proper posture and improved employee attitude, happiness and engagement.

person pouring water on white cup

Water Cooler Washout? by Efrat Cohen August 31, 2022

One vital aspect of office life that is missed while working remotely is office cooler chat. In fact, it is so valuable that quite a few consulting firms and vendors, such as Tim Eisenhauer, co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor and bestselling author, recommend recreating these types of meetings virtually for remote employees to support employee engagement, retention, collaboration, productivity, and work culture building. We at home or in the office still have to fill up our cups or water bottles.

For those who have a water cooler at home, be mindful of your posture when filling up your cup or water bottle. If you are having difficulty bending at your hips and knees to maintain an upright back and good posture, try performing mini squats to improve your bottle filling form.

Water is important for cell function and life. However, we may be drinking too much. Overhydration causes the electrolytes levels to drop creating an imbalance in the body. The body’s salt levels go down, the kidneys can’t remove the excess liquid, and the cells in the body swell and grow in size, including the brain. Many signs of overhydration are similar to dehydration, such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle cramping, and fatigue.

Replenish Here

Here are a few ways to figure out the right balance:

Check The Color of Your Urine. If the urine is often clear, that’s a sure sign you’re drinking too much water in a short span.

Too Many Bathroom Trips. You may be relieving yourself more than usual. On average, you should urinate six to eight times a day. It may be more if you drink caffeine.

Discoloration of the hands, feet, and lips. When you’re overhydrated, you will notice some swelling or discoloration of your feet, hands, and lips. When the cells swell, the skin will also swell.

man in brown robe carrying bag smiling

Bag Carriers, It’s Time To Get A Grip by Efrat Cohen August 24, 2022

Whether you are carrying a laptop, lunch, or personal items it all seems to weigh you down. You may even experience discomfort or pain in your hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, neck, or back. You often wonder if there is a better solution. Consider these tips to lighten your load:

Make sure the bag itself isn’t heavy. The bag and its contents should be no more than 10% of your body weight. Consider a smaller bag to encourage yourself to carry less

Select a bag with wider straps to help distribute more of the weight. Tight, narrow straps can dig into your shoulders and can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in your arms and hands.

If you are using a one strap bag, such as a tote or cross body, its’ weight stresses one side of the body.

Switch to the other shoulder frequently, like every few blocks.

Fanny pack/belt bags allow for movement of the arms but may put pressure on your bladder and increase the curve of your lumbar spine.

Back packs and drawstring bags can distribute weight more symmetrically but they can also strain your back and shoulders if they are not snug to the body. They can also cause you to lean forward.

Rolling bags may help you with your load but they can cause you to lean forward and have been found to be a tripping hazard.

Bag carriers, there is no ideal bag. It is best to carry a lighter load, distribute it evenly, and be conscious of your posture and body mechanics.

man people woman desk

Take A Lead With This by Efrat Cohen August 17, 2022

As business owners, managers, and employees, we each look for opportunities to develop and demonstrate leadership in our roles and industry. We seek the guidance of a coach, advisor, or strategist, or participate in educational programming to develop these skills. We also use various tools to assess these skills in our own performance and that of our employees such performance appraisals and 360 degree feedback. There is another assessment you should add: Posture.

According to recent studies, posture has a strong impact on leadership mindset and action. It is more responsible in influencing leadership related behaviors than the title themselves (Galinsky, et al., 2011). It was also found that individuals who assumed an upright posture were perceived as leaders in meetings, decision making, and interviews (Arnette et al., 2012)

Here are a few strategies to help you get ahead:

Camera Eye Level: If you are participating in a virtual meeting, make sure camera is eye level so you are looking at your meeting attendees in the eye or at eye level. It will also allow you sit or stand up tall.

Don’t Lean: If you are participating in an in person or virtual meeting, don’t lean in on surfaces. Use surfaces to stand or sit taller.

Move Around: Add some upright body movement when you speak to stress an important point and to demonstrate interest, showing you are actively listening.

people wearing running shoes

Let Me Run This By You by Efrat Cohen August 10, 2022

There are many benefits to running. In fact, many corporate events and fundraisers for non-profits include running. Aside from improving one’s health, running can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease (Zhang et al., 2022), improve vision (Chu-Tan et al, 2022), and increase bone density (Ruiz-Vicente et al., 2021). However, many runners have less strength, decreased flexibility, and impaired balance. All can lead to pain and injury.

Many running coaches, including Adam Hodges, consider the glutes and abdominals most important muscles for running. Others, such as James Dunne, stress the quads and hamstrings. If all are not properly activated, you put yourself at risk for injury, especially to your hips, knees, and ankles.

Here’s a quick assessment of your strength and balance:

Do you slouch and demonstrate poor posture?
Do you rely on your arms to get out of a chair, including pushing off your thighs?
Do you push off your thigh with your hand when you get up off the floor?
Is your walking pattern is uneven or asymmetrical?
Can you not stand on one foot for at least 30 seconds on both your right and left legs?

If you answered yes to any, some, or all the above questions then you know what you need to work on before your next run.

man in pink dress shirt

Customer Service Please Hold by Efrat Cohen August 3, 2022

As business owners, we are always seeking ways to improve our client relations. There are various metrics we may implement to determine their satisfaction, such as First Call Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).

Many times we wonder if our own hired service providers use metrics when we are kept on endless holds, extensive dealings with customer service reps, or multiple calls for unresolved issues. According to CallMiner, the average length of a service call rose by several minutes in the past few years. The clincher, the request to complete the customer satisfaction survey after the call…

Here are some simple exercise hacks you can use while you are waiting on hold for your next call:

1) Put your phone on speaker
2) Get up from your chair and walk around your office, house, or apartment
3) Practice working on your balance by standing on one foot 5 trials and then standing on your other foot 5 trials. Try to reach a goal of 30 seconds. If you need hand support, practice this exercise standing near a file cabinet or countertop for hand support.
4) Go to a doorway and stretch out your back
5) Work on quick assignments while you wait

Still on hold?
Please feel free to read my blogs and email me your comments.

woman s hand

Hands Free? by Efrat Cohen July 27, 2022

For some reason we never know what to do with our hands. There is a plethora of literature regarding body language, discussing the implication of the positions of your hands and the messages they convey to your audience. However, your choice of hand position may be due postural weakness, impaired balance, and opportunities to improve respiration.

Here’s what you shouldn’t be doing with your hands:

Don’t hug yourself or place your hands in your pockets— this leads to bending of your back, rounded shoulders, and head forward posture. It also conveys defensiveness and lack of confidence.

Try keeping your hands at your side with your thumbs pointing forward or slightly turned out. This will help you stand straight. However, don’t keep your hands there for long periods of time. Apparently it may cue people to think that you are socially awkward.

Some recommendations to keep you socially accepted and posture aware:

If you are at a social event, hold a cup. If you are trying to make a sale, hold the item or something related to the item of interest like a brochure. Don’t fiddle with it. Showcase it.

Try to push pressure through your heels to help you stand taller and feel more grounded. Of course you can move yourself and your arms around. If you stand in one place for too long it shows insecurity. However, don’t move too much. It’s distracting.

If you lean on surfaces, place a hand on the wall or on a tall table or chair, and use it to straighten yourself up.

walking the dog

Dog Walk This Way by Efrat Cohen July 20, 2022

There is nothing like being a pet owner. With warmer weather, we find ourselves spending more time outside with our dogs. If you don’t own one already, you may have found yourself “window shopping” in the neighborhood. According to many dog owners, sitters, trainers, and vets, summertime is the best time to buy a dog. Research has supported the well-known benefits to owning a dog, such as improving your physical and mental health (Kramer et al., 2019)(le Roux et al, 2020), cognition and socialization (Moretti et al., 2011)(Guéguen et al., 2008).

The greatest challenge of the pet owner or walker is walking the dog. Most common injuries are falls, sprains and fractures to the shoulder, wrist, and fingers. Experts recommend shorter leashes, a hands free leash, and not to wrap the leash or stick fingers under the collar. Here are some simple exercises to improve your balance and help you walk your dog safely:

Mini Squats
Stand up tall, with your feet shoulder width apart. Your feet and knees should be pointing towards 12 o’clock position. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend your hips and knees as if you are going to sit down. Bend until your knees cover your toes, and hold for 5. Then slowly straighten up pushing through your heels to stand up tall. Repeat 10 times.

Mini Lunges
Stand up tall, feet shoulder width apart, pointing to 12 o’clock. Take a step forward. Keeping your feet and knees pointing to 12 o’clock position, back straight, and hips leveled, slowly bend at your hips and knees until your front knee covers your toes. Hold for 5, and then slowly return to upright. Repeat 5 times, and then switch legs and repeat as above.

Before You Golf, Take a Swing at This by Efrat Cohen July 13, 2022

There many benefits to playing golf. Aside from closing business, fresh air, stress reduction, and exercise, recreational golfers benefit from a 5-year increase in life expectancy compared to non-players (Farahman et al., 2009). However, many recreational golfers have less strength, endurance, and flexibility. Inefficient and overzealous swinging may result in acute or repetitive trauma (Batt et al., 1992).

Many pro golf trainers, including Carolina Romero, consider the glutes the most important muscle in golf. Other professionals, such as Greg Roskopf, performance and injury prevention consultant, believe obliques strength determines golf performance. If both are not properly activated, you put yourself at risk of injury, especially to your low back.

Here’s a quick test to see if your abs and gluts are weak:

Do you slouch and demonstrate poor posture?
Do you rely on your arms to get out of a chair, including pushing off your thighs?
Is your walking pattern uneven or asymmetrical?
Can you not stand on one foot for at least 30 seconds on both your right and left legs?

If you answered yes to any, some, or all the above questions then you know what you need to work on to improve your game.