Experts call it “the turtle.” It’s that neck-bent, shoulders-forward, hunched-over position many people assume when sitting all day at work on their computers or texting on their phones.
Even if you begin the workday sitting ramrod straight—your chin held at an angle that would make Emily Post proud—hours of answering emails and reviewing work documents tend to pull you down into the turtle, says Dr. Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University.
This cramped pose is bad for a lot of reasons, Hedge says. For one thing, it puts pressure on your neck, spine and lower back, which can lead to soreness and injury. This bent-forward posture also pinches nerves in your neck that run down to your arms and hands, which increases your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and other painful conditions.
And unlike your mother’s warning that making a silly face might make it stay that way, that’s actually true of poor posture. “Your head weighs 10 or 12 pounds,” says Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, former chief of physical therapy at Harvard University and now CEO ofBack2Back Physical Therapy in Andover, Mass. Holding it straight engages lots of muscles in your neck and shoulders. But when you spend all day with your head hanging forward, then come home from the office and plop a tablet or phone into your lap, all of those support muscles languish and weaken, she explains. Read more