correct desk posture

Correct Posture to Relieve Neck and Back Pain

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.

Correct posture for computer work
Correct posture for computer work


  • 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.

Chair position

  • 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.
Optimal keyboard and screen arrangement
Optimal keyboard and screen arrangement

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.


  1. I spend about 10 hours on the computer everyday and my neck and back is always so uncomfortable. I always feel like my back needs a good crack, just feels like there’s so much tension all over. I looked at your diagram and I’m definitely the first guy sitting hunched over. It’s getting worse too and I’m definitely looking for a solution. I’ve heard a lot of good things about yoga and so I’m not surprised you recommend it, anyways maybe I’ll try that.

    1. Hi Kent.  Yoga will help with your posture but there are many benefits to yoga so give it a try – you may be pleasantly surprised.

  2. This is very helpful article for me. Because of my job I am always tied to a chair and in most cases I don’t pay attention on my position while I sit. This is a very bad habit and I know so many people who have problems with neck pain just because of bad position while sitting. I will try to implement your advises, thank you!

    1. Yes, Daniel.  When we’re busy we forget about our posture but the pain and discomfort will remind us soon enough.  If you need to be at your desk for long periods, remember to stand up now and then to stretch.  Take care of yourself now so that you won’t be in pain in the future.

  3. I cannot stress how important the tips in your post are, considering not most of us nowadays are working at an office job and staring at the computer screen all day.

    Heck, i’m only 24 and my back aches sometimes. I will remeber your advice and sit correctly. But one of my favourite tips is to take a break and stretch once in awhile.

    1. Hey Lucas!  So glad you are paying attention to your posture now – don’t wait until you have chronic pain before you do something about it.  If you look after yourself now, you will be strong and healthy in your later years.

  4. Oh yea, damn not bothering to listen to my grandmother about focusing and correcting my posture is really starting to take it toll as I am starting to age, and work less. Finding these tips have been brilliant

    I haven’t really looked into yoga much, but I am wondering if you could advise me of a couple of the best yoga moves that would specifically target correcting my back and neck posture.? I am beginning to spend a lot more time sitting at the computer and could really could do with that kind of relief.

    Many Thanks

    1. Hey Ropata!  Yes, when you’re young, the old ones are just nagging.  Now I find myself saying the same things to my children!  Taking breaks and stretching will certainly help too.  I will do an article on yoga for different types of ailments in the future.  

  5. This was an interesting article. I think I might be making some of the mistakes you mention; thanks for pointing them out for me. I like the image you’ve included; it really helps us visualize the posture changes we need to make. 

    So when you say ‘short break’, how long should this be? 5 minutes? 30 seconds? Similarly, when you say ‘longer break’ how long should that be? Thanks again for sharing, I’ll be sure to implement these tips.  

    1. Hi Danny.  The length of the break depends on how much time you have available.  It’s really to get you to stretch otherwise we tend to just slouch for hours in front of the computer.  A longer break could be the time it takes you to go to the bathroom or get yourself a drink of water.  It’s really up to you.  

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