In today’s world, the majority of one’s work is done at a computer or laptop. Being glued to the desk for hours on end is taking a toll on your neck and lower back. As you spend hour after hour hunched over your computer like the hunchback of Notre Damme, your spine is taking a pounding. Slouching causes a sustained strain on all the discs, ligaments and joints that hold your spine together and can over time lead to mechanical neck and lower back pain. Your muscles were designed to hold you up, not these passive structures!
First of all, even if you sat in “perfect” posture all day long, you will start to run in to problems (albeit a different set of problems than a sloucher will have). Your best posture is your next one. Meaning, your body was built to move, not to stay stuck in any one position for hours on end. Making a point of taking frequent brief breaks from sitting is crucial to keeping your body happy.
Setting work station up optimally will make it easier for you to find your way into a better posture (ie avoid slouching). This still requires you to become aware of your posture and correct it whenever you catch yourself falling back into old habits. Learning how to correct your posture can often take weeks or even months to master, but it will pay dividends in the long run. This article will go over the do’s and don’ts of work station setup.
Have your monitor too low. This will make you tilt you head downwards, which over time, tends to pull your head and upper back forwards.
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Have monitor at height where the junction of the top 1/3 and middle 1/3 of the monitor is at eye level
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Have keyboard on desk. When you have to reach forwards for your keyboard, it creates a forward “pull” on your body which will draw you to slouch over time
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Use an adjustable keyboard tray or at the very least sit your keyboard on your lap. This allows you to have your upper arm stay vertical and decrease the forward “pull” from reaching for the keyboard on your desk. Getting a keyboard tray that also has a mouse pad built in is also very helpful.
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Perch at the edge of your chair. You may start in good posture, but after 15-20 minutes you’re definitely going to start to slouch!
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Use the lumbar support on your chair by sitting all the way to the back of your chair and keeping shoulders/upper back in contact with the chair. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you need a foot rest. If you don’t have lumbar support, you can buy a lumbar roll or use a rolled towel (place this at about belt line.
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Poke your head forwards. This puts significant strain on your neck.
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Have your head on top of your body. If you taped a string to your chin, it should dangle over your chest, not over your lap.
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Laptops are built for portability and convenience. However, using one makes it very difficult to stay in a good position. If you have the laptop sitting on your lap, you have to hunch over in order to see the screen. This is made even worse if you sit on the couch with your laptop. If you have the laptop monitor at an ideal height, then you have to reach awkwardly to get to the keyboard.
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Use a bluetooth or USB keyboard and place this on your lap. You can then put the laptop at the appropriate height with a stand or stacking a few books.
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Hold your phone in front of their chest with the head hanging forwards/down. This puts even more pressure on your neck than letting your head poke forwards at the computer
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Hold your phone up in front of you so your neck can stay upright
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Postural Overcorrection Exercise
A simple exercise to re-set your posture is called postural over-correction.
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- Sit up as tall as you can
- Pull head all the way back on your body (give yourself a double chin)
- Relax 10-20% from this position