Real Talk With Robin: I Have Bad Posture.
I obviously spend the majority of my time thinking about posture and ergonomics. I write about it, I research it, and I talk about it with the rest of the Sleekform team all day long.
In my spare time I’ve recently begun a whole new training regime to increase my fitness levels and I have been really putting my body through it- I get up every day before 6 am and have been managing to squeeze in 8 workouts a week- it’s a little nuts, but I’ve got #goals.
I decided that if I was really going to commit myself to a training program this intense then it would be important to introduce massage therapy into my regime to give my muscles some much needed restorative care.
I’m lucky enough to go to a gym that cares about their client's overall wellbeing and has physicians, chiropractors and registered massage therapists (RMT’s) on site. Yesterday, I met with the RMT for the first time and she took no mercy on me. She gave me the full meal deal starting with the mid and lower back, moving down to the legs and feet… and then making her way back up to my arms, neck, and shoulders.
Now, this is the point where the story takes a turn…
I know I’ve been pushing myself to my physical limits lately, and I by no means expected the treatment to be a walk in the park- but once she got up to my shoulders it was a whole new ball game.
It was not painful…. it was a nuclear explosion, call-a-doctor-I’m-dying levels of EXCRUCIATING. I wanted to yell at my poor, innocent RMT. My fingers started to tingle, and there was literal crunching with every push and squeeze. This was not therapy, this was punishment. I have had plenty of massages in the past, but they certainly never felt like this.
“Oh wow…” said the RMT.
That’s never a good sign…
“Yeah.. Ow..” I said sheepishly in between painful grimaces.
After the treatment the RMT sat me down and asked some hardball questions:
“Do you sit at a desk all day?”
“Yes” I replied.
“How long have you been doing this type of work?”
“Just over a year.”
“Do you work from a desktop or a laptop?”
“Hmmm okay..” she said, staring at my neck. “You’re going to need to work on your posture.”
...Excuse me?! Don’t you know who I am? I am the princess of posture! The duchess of ergonomics! I make a living spreading the word of good posture- how could I possibly have to work on my posture? I know the facts!
Well folks... it turns out you can’t just know the facts- you must also put them into action.
It was a very humbling experience to have to sit there and have someone give me all the posture tips I write about on this very blog each and every week.
“Try elevating your laptop up so you’re not slouching downward to work. Make sure your mouse or trackpad is at waist level. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re not sticking your chin out while you work. Try not to drop your chin when looking at your phone.”
Woof. At that moment I felt downright hypocritical. I know all of this- how was I still not doing it? I had no idea that actually implementing these rules and doing the posture exercises I yammer on about each week was so difficult. It’s so easy to observe bad posture habits in others, but when it comes to yourself it’s incredibly difficult.
I don’t have any trouble holding myself accountable for other things in my life, I’m incredibly self-disciplined- I hit all my deadlines, I get up at 5:30 am for my workouts every day… and then it hit me… with all of those things, I have someone I’m answering to. Yes, it's up to me to actually get the work done and it’s my choice to get up out of bed and make it to the workouts, but if I didn’t have a team depending on me and a trainer waiting for me, would I be as dedicated?
When it comes to my posture it’s all on me. I work remotely so I don’t have co-workers I can enlist to watch my slouching. I move around a lot so I can’t create the optimal ergonomic workspace I work so hard to provide others with for myself- I’m at the mercy of the co-working spaces and coffee shops I find myself at.
As I walked out of my appointment I immediately called Liz (Founder/ CEO/ Posture Queen of Sleekform) to confess the shame that I had brought upon our good, clean, ergonomic name- and her response was SHOCKING.
She divulged her own issues she was experiencing due to years of poor posture. She’s been working remotely at a computer a lot longer than I have so her pain has had time to evolve into a full blown injury. She has some super overworked, strong muscles and some that are underworked and weaker. One day she was doing nothing in particular and one weird movement later and both sides of her back had gone into a full-blown muscle spasm, on both sides, at the same time.
She told me about how she laid on her bed face down while she scream told her husband where to put the most amount of direct pressure he could (I enjoyed this visual. Way to go Greg.) He kept telling her that the spots she was asking him to press on were bones… he was wrong they were most definitely tightly wound muscles that felt like bones.
She managed to get it under control enough to get herself to the physical therapist's office. He immediately recommended electric dry needling. She described to me the insane contractions that starting happening- it made my painful massage seem like kid stuff. After the treatments she would be out of commission for the rest of the day, but suddenly the pain was manageable, almost gone. For her to keep the pain under control she had to receive daily treatments… and then she told me about the insane cost.
Both of us commiserated with each other over how we regretted not being more proactive with preventative care. Liz has full dedicated herself to her kneeling chair, roost laptop stand, keyboard and trackpad set up. Couple with frequent dry needling and therapy and yoga she’s getting it under control.
All of this left me feeling so shook that I decided to go off our weekly content schedule in order to come clean. It’s time for me to take full responsibility for my posture. Not only for my health and wellbeing but also for your health and wellbeing too. I can’t just be hunched over like a slug while writing these blog posts telling you what you should be doing and not putting it into practice myself. How can I provide you with realistic expectations and valuable, informative, useful content?
This is why for the next week I’m going to keep a daily log of my posture observations, the exercises I’m doing to help fix my posture and tracking all my progress (and struggles). I’ll be making daily updates on our Instagram stories (so go follow @sleekform!) and next Friday I will update our blog with my findings, lessons learned and my next steps to not becoming a hunchback.
I challenge you to join me in this posture- fixing accountability journey. In fact, I’d find it downright inspiring if you did.
In the meantime- do you actively pay attention to your posture? Comment below the day to day things you do to make sure you’re staying upright- I need all the help I can get!