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Is Your Computer the Cause of your Pain?

| Jeremy Kethley |

With the dropping temperatures, we find ourselves spending more and more time indoors. This inevitably means more time in front of the computer screen, the television, or reading a book/magazine.  And, unfortunately, most jobs today require people to spend a majority of time on the computer.  The human body was not designed to sit extended periods of time.  Improper posture can lead to or exacerbate back pain.  Therefore, proper posture is a valuable component of preventing or managing back and neck pain.

In this month’s article, we will address sitting posture.  Since most of us spend hours/day at a desk or computer, it is important that we minimize the stresses we place on our spine during this time.

There are 3 easy steps to find a good sitting posture – 1) sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely, 2) then draw yourself up and accentuate the curve in your low back, and 3) then release this position slightly (about 10 degrees).

Here’s how to achieve this position while sitting at your desk/computer:

  • Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor, your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your hips & knees are bent at right angles.
  • You should sit back in your chair so that your buttocks touch the back of the chair with a lumbar support in the small of your back to help maintain the normal curve

in your low back.  Your weight should be evenly distributed between your hips.

  • The computer screen should be adjusted so that the screen is eye level in order to

prevent straining your neck.

  • The keyboard tray should be level with the height of your elbows and your shoulders should be relaxed.
  • When using the mouse, move from your shoulder rather than your wrist and keep your wrist flat.  Do not use a wrist pad that puts a bend in your wrist.

Most importantly, take frequent breaks.  Get up every 20-30 minutes and walk around.  If you are experiencing back or neck pain, try simply following the techniques outlined above.  If your pain easily resolves, then the cause of your discomfort was postural in nature.  If not, we recommend addressing your symptoms with your health care provider.

*** Please note:  Article written by  Erin Kethley, MPT