So many jobs in North America today require people to spend long periods of time working at a desk or on a computer. Unfortunately, that has also led to a whole host of spine and health problems. Headaches, back pain and neck pain are all very commonly associated with these working conditions. Read on to see some simple steps you can take to help prevent problems from developing and avoid being affected by injury.
Posture at a Computer
When you’re working at a desktop computer there are a couple things to look for. First, your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor. If it is too low there is extra stress on your neck from always looking down. It’s the same problem with using a laptop. If you need to use a laptop the best way around it is to place your computer on a stand so it’s up front of you and then use a wireless mouse and keyboard. When positioning your mouse and keyboard, have them at a height so that your forearms are parallel with the floor. If they’re up higher you are constantly lifting your shoulders and stressing the muscles and connective tissues in your neck while working.
Which chair should I use?
A common question we get is “what chair should I use?” The short answer is that there isn’t one right chair! Everybody’s body type is different, everybody’s proportions are different so no chair is designed specifically for you. Researchers have found that even if your chair is set up perfectly and you concentrate on maintaining perfect posture, within minutes you’ll start to slouch and shift around. Instead of finding the perfect chair it’s important to change your seating position on a regular basis, at least once or twice an hour. You can switch to an exercise ball for 5-10 minutes to give the ligaments in your spine a break while activating your core muscles at the same time.
Another option is to use a standing desk. These are becoming more and more popular because of the health benefits that come along with it. There are many products available so that with the push of a button your workstation can elevate to a standing height. If you want to take it even a step further you can switch to a treadmill desk. Make your own with a treadmill you already have or buy a ready to use set-up available from many different retailers (Walmart even carries them online!) The treadmill doesn’t need to be moving quickly, just a slow pace to keep your body moving.
There are countless products available that are marketed as posture-saving or ergonomic. While some of them may be beneficial, nothing can replace getting up on a regular basis and moving around. Motion is essential for all life. When you’re sitting or stationary at a computer for long periods it causes damage to the spine, poor posture and allows for bad habits to develop. By having proper computer and keyboard height, getting up a few times every hour and switching up work positions you can help prevent injury and disease from developing in your spine.