Did you know that there is a right and wrong way to sit at the computer? Many people may know this, but continue to practice poor habits while working or playing at the computer. These poor practices typically lead to back and neck problems due to improper alignment of the spinal column and undue strain and pressure on the muscles, ligaments, and nerves throughout the back and spine. In this article, we will provide you with tips to help you retrain yourself to sit properly at a computer.
1. Sit-up Straight
One of the many poor habits that people, especially office-workers, end up forming is slouching or “getting comfortable” at a computer. Slouching while sitting is one of the worst habits a person can have because it is one of the biggest reasons for lower back problems. Slouching causes you to inadvertently put additional stress on your lower back muscles – or can even cause you to pinch a nerve.
By sitting up straight at the computer, you can help alleviate some of the strain, and relocate the stress and weight of your body into other, more appropriate areas. While sitting at the computer, your hips should touch the back of your computer chair so that they are in alignment with your spine. It is also important to ensure that your hips are slightly higher than your knees, and that your feet are placed flat on the floor.
2. Be Mindful of Your Computer Chair
When purchasing a computer chair, it is important to sit in the chair prior to purchasing! In addition to determining whether or not the chair is comfortable, also make sure that it offers some adjustment options. Good options to look for are: height adjustments, adjustable back/lumbar support, and fitted or removable armrests. The first two options mentioned here are pretty self-explanatory; however, it is important to remember to keep your shoulders relaxed while sitting at your desk. If you cannot find an affordable desk chair that includes fitted armrests, then you should remove the armrests to ensure proper spinal column alignment.
3. Use a Small Pillow
If for any reason you are not able to purchase a chair that offers an adjustable height option, you can easily use an alternative method to ensure that you’re properly aligned while sitting by using a small pillow or purchasing an inflatable cushion. Many office-workers prefer this method, since oftentimes they are not in control of the type of office furniture they can use!
4. Take Breaks
If you use the computer often, it is important to take periodic breaks to give your body and circulatory system a rest. Ideally, try to take a one to two minute break every 20 to 30 minutes, or a 5-10 minute break every hour. During these breaks, try to do other activities that do not require you to sit or work at the computer such as checking the mail, getting a cup of coffee, etc. Keeping your body active, even when you have a mostly stationary job, is more beneficial to your health than you may realize.
Most of us know that proper alignment while sitting, standing, and sleeping is just as important to our overall health as is eating a proper diet, however many of us do not practice good posture while working or playing. By practicing these tips on proper posture while sitting at the computer, you can ward off chronic back pain.