A while ago, I had severe pain so I went to the chiropractor. At the initial consultation they do all these tests and x-rays and explained that my spine and nervous system were not functioning at their best. After years and years of sitting in front of a computer, my body is bending out of shape! I was told that if I don’t have correct posture, things are going to get worse. The vertebrae can become deformed. The muscles on one side can become weak and the muscles on the other side overcompensate. You can start to lose the natural curves of your spine (more correctly, the cervical lordosis, thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis) and you can become less flexible. Sitting staring at a computer for hours on end is seriously bad for your posture, spine and nervous system and your health!
You’ve got to sit right and get some exercise otherwise after a few years of bad posture, your spine can become disfigured and may result in pain. The good news is that you can do something about it today!
Here are some guidelines for correct posture for computer work at a desk. It may take a little while for you to be comfortable sitting up correctly after years of slouching, but your body will thank you for it in the long run.
- Place the keyboard directly in front of your body, with the most frequently used section of the keyboard centred with your body.
- Adjust the keyboard height so that your shoulders are relaxed, elbows in a slightly open position (100° to 110°), your forearms resting comfortably on the table and your wrists and hands are straight.
- Place the mouse close to the keyboard.
- Centre the screen directly in front of you, above your keyboard so that when looking directly at the screen, your neck is in a neutral, relaxed position.
- The top of the screen should be approximately 5 – 10 cm above eye level when seated.
- The screen should be at least an arm’s length away when sitting. Adjust the distance for your vision.
- Sit as far back in the chair as you can go.
- Adjust seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line with your hips (or slightly lower). Use a foot rest if necessary.
- Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle. The upper and lower back must be supported. Use a back support if necessary.
- Shoulders should be relaxed. If you have armrests, adjust them so that your arms are 90° to your body when resting on the armrest and your shoulders are not hunched up to your ears.
- Place your telephone within easy reach so you can reach it without overstretching.
- Use headsets or speaker phone to avoid cradling the handset on your shoulder or holding it to the ear, especially if you have to type while talking on the phone.
Extra tips to for correct posture
- Take a short break every 30 minutes. Stand up and stretch. Use a timer app if you need reminding.
- After each hour of work, take a longer break or change tasks.
- Use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag so you can spread the load across your shoulders.
- High heels can cause back pain so wear a shorter heel and alternate with flats.
- Do core strength exercises so your core muscles (the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen) can support your spine. You’ll have better balance and stability and fewer injuries generally.
- Yoga may help strengthen your body and relieve the pain.