Sitting at the Computer : 5-minute Ergonomics for
Good?Posture and Health?
Written by Osteopath Mathilde Konczynski
|Computers are essential tools in our lives. We use them daily at work and at home but what easy steps can we all take to improve our posture and wellbeing?|
|Maintaining a static position for hours can cause physical fatigue, reduce circulation to our soft tissues (muscle and ligaments) and lead to aches and pains. Long periods of sitting at the computer are a risk factor for developing muscle and joint pains, neck and back pain, shoulder, wrist or hand overuse injuries, eye strain and headaches.Posture is the term we use to describe the way we hold our body. Good posture designates a good alignment in which mechanical stresses are distributed evenly through the intended muscles and ligaments. When posture is good, the mechanics in the body work efficiently. This limits wear and tear and helps to reduce strain on muscles, ligaments and joints.The best way to promote good health and posture at the computer is to set-up an ergonomic work station and to strive to remain as mobile as possible at the desk.As an osteopath, I see a lot of people with desk-work related injuries and I spend a lot of time going through the best way to sit at the computer to prevent these from recurring. I?ve grouped my best tips in here for you; take 5 minutes to sit yourself better!|
Step-by-step desk posture review :
1. ?Sit on the anterior 2/3rd of your seat, knees in line with your hips. This?maintains your pelvis in a natural position and preserves good spinal curves. Even on the best desk chairs, the back rest is really designed to support your back when you need a rest and not 12 hours a day. If you use it as a permanent prop, your muscles tend to give up and you slouch. Sitting up straight will feel harder than slouching but your back will thank you for it!
2. ?Sitting on your chair, ensure your:
3. ?Roll yourself under the desk remembering to keep your shoulders relaxed. Ideally your forearms should land on the desk and remain roughly parallel to the floor. If this isn?t the case you need to readjust the height of your chair and may need a foot rest to maintain the angles described in step 2.
Your elbows need to stay relaxed by your sides at all times, don?t lift them!
4. ?Move your keyboard and mouse to meet your hands, you shouldn?t need to reach for them. Using gel pads to support your wrists will help prevent repetitive strain injuries
5. ?If you need to have documents, phones etc on your desk, organise for them to stand between the keyboard and the side of your screen to preserve as good a set-up as possible
6. ?Your screen should ideally be at arm?s length and the top third of your screen should be at eye level to prevent neck flexion and the associated slouching that goes with it
That?s you set-up? Now for keeping mobile.
Hidden exercise in the workplace :
Walk or cycle to work; can you get off a couple of tube/bus stops earlier? With the Boris bikes now there is no excuse even if you live far
Dynamic sitting on an unstable structure such as an exercise ball instead of a traditional chair will force your core muscles to keep working throughout the day. This improves blood supply and makes it very difficult to cross your legs
Stand; you can read or talk standing up. Standing for important phone calls helps to project your voice more efficiently which makes you sound more confident!
Walk; take the stairs, have regular water cooler breaks, get out and about for your lunch. Some companies encourage ?walking meetings? at work, could that work for you?
Drink plenty of water; it keeps you well hydrated and forces you to take more loo breaks
Stretch whenever you have a minute; waiting for a large document to load, after completing a task or while you wait on the phone
Remember: prevention is the best medicine!