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3 simple ways to improve posture on your commute

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Author: RiutBag designer, Sarah Giblin

If you’re lucky enough to find a seat on a train, does it matter how you sit in it? If good posture is important to you in the long run, the way you hold your mobile phone, what kind of bag you use and how you sit at your laptop every day are likely to have an impact.

A physiotherapist friend of mine commented that I’m hunching my shoulders over, just a bit, when I sit down. I was doing it without having even noticed. It made me feel a bit self-conscious about it when she first mentioned it, but I could feel the difference immediately when she got me to relax my shoulders and let them roll back. I’m not interested in wearing a back brace! But if I don’t start doing something about it, over the years I could develop poor posture. And I don’t want that.

I've found three areas I catch myself crouching over every day. Catching this behaviour sooner rather than later means I can build a good posture into the everyday routines I have that impact my back: 

  1. How I hold my mobile phone
  2. How I carry my belongings
  3. How I write on my laptop

How to hold your mobile phone for better posture

Phones are our friends; they give us endless information and entertainment. They are so all consuming we may actually forget our bodies and just melt into a digital world where there is no such thing as real spines and posture, just webpages about them.

So how do you avoid phone neck? It’s super simple. Just bring your lower arm and phone up towards your face when you use your phone.  Let your neck and head relax in an upright position, rather than craning forwards. 

better posture iPhone smart phone Sarah Giblin Berlin Karl Marx Allee

It feels a bit weird at first. It also seems like you’re just staring straight at your phone. But that’s what you’re doing whether you’re being kind to your back or not. But then you notice the lack of strain on your neck. It’s a good feeling. And perhaps your phone-holding bicep gets a mini workout too :)

63% of us enjoy our commute because it gives us some “me” time to catch up on the news, friends’ whereabouts and share stuff on social media, perhaps play games and check out what the world’s cats are up to. In that time, we might as well also do something decent for our backs. Or at least not cause them any more trouble than we need to.

How to carry your belongings with better posture

In the old days the brief case and the handbag were the only way to show up at the office. These days, we don’t need to carry everything we own on one arm or shoulder and hope that our back can handle it.

From the point of view of back health, the best solution to carrying stuff in your daily routine is to get all the weight evenly distributed over both shoulders. That means, a proper backpack for your commute.

Make sure your straps have enough width not to cut into your shoulders. Bonus points if you use a chest and waist strap. This stops your shoulders taking all the weight. The waist strap shared the weight on to your hips and legs. The chest or sternum strap brings some of the weigh from the back and allows your chest and torso to carry some too.

backpack better posture waist strap chest karl marx allee berlin sarah giblin

It’s possible to wear a backpack and still have bad posture! So once you’ve switched to a backpack, make sure you’ve got it set up right for your back. Stand up straight, pull in the straps so your backpack sits nice and close to your back. Attach the waist strap and chest strap so that there is minimal movement when you twist from side to side.

Now, give your back a real chance by keeping your shoulders back, relaxed and your head held high!

How to work at your laptop with better posture

It’s tricky if you’re on a train and need to use a laptop. If you have the option of doing emails on your phone instead, that may be better for your posture in the long term because you can bring your phone up to eye level relatively easily. See above.

Once you arrive, if you sit in an office for more than a few minutes every day, once you get to work, do yourself a favour. In my home office, I’ve raised my laptop to a level where I can sit up straight.

better posture laptop work copydesk Sarah Giblin Berlin Karl Marx Allee

Especially if I’m on the road and working, I’ll often work in my hotel room. Not from the tiny desk, but on my bed. That kills my neck! So I take this strange contraption along and it keeps my head from not wanting to fall off my body.

Good luck with your travels! Sign up to my newsletter and choose what you hear from me about: travel ideas, startup tips, latest backpack designs, sales and deals on my designs at www.riut.co.uk.

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I’m Sarah. Backs are important to me because I design and build city backpacks called RiutBag, designed with security at their core. My company is called Riut - that stands for Revolution in user thinking. Let’s use the right products and behaviours to make sure we are truly adapting to our urban environment: feeling calm, confident and comfortable wherever we go today and in the future.