Everyone pretty much knows that having a good posture is important, right? Whether sitting or standing, proper body mechanics can save you a lot of grief and pain. Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011–12 National Health Survey show about 3 million Australians (13.6% of the population) have back problems. It is estimated that 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives. So there is no time like the present to form good posture habits!
With an increase in the number of hours spent sitting in front of a screen, a quick friendly back health check isn’t a bad thing. In addition, these tips can apply to gamer, blogger, desk worker, or casual email checker all the same. Drawing upon both personal experience (I’ve been regularly seen by a chiropractor since I was in elementary school and have worked with chiropractors before) and international chiropractic association resources, here are the best tips I could find on posture while on the computer.
- Design a computer work space that is fit to your body. This means the height of the desk and chair suits you. An adjustable chair can make this easier to do. If sharing a computer space with another person, make sure you adjust your chair, desk and monitor each time you use it. (Barring the 10 second email check. You’ll be fine for that one.)
- Properly set up your chair. Feet should be flat on the ground, and knees bent to “open angles” (slightly more than 90 degrees.) Try and avoid tucking feet under you.
- Shoulders should be square to the computer, and chin parallel with the floor.1 The center of your monitor should also be at eye level.2 This ensures you are at a good position to look at your monitor without straining your neck.
- When typing or using your mouse, keep your wrist straight and forearm parallel with the floor.
- Take frequent break (every 20-30 minutes).3 These breaks can be as simple as standing up and doing a couple simple neck/arm/back stretches, going to the bathroom, or making a cup of tea. Anything to get you out of the chair and allowing yourself time to reset and refocus on your posture once you are back seated.
Personally, I make sure that after about an hour at the computer, I completely walk away for a few minutes. This allows me to avoid slouching and lower back pain. I pick simple task (such as checking on laundry, putting away dishes, or taking the dog for a lap around the block) that get me standing and moving (and being productive!). It is also good mentally, because any mental fog that has accumulated from staring at a screen goes away, and I feel ready to get back to work.
The resources I used as references are linked below in the footer. Chiropractic’s can be a great part of back and nerve health and maintenance, so these websites can be a good start if you have never been to a chiropractor before and want more information.
Personal Trainer at Core Fitness