Ergonomics: Computer Set-up

Mirabai-Photo-WEBcomputer-pI got this email the other day from a woman with aches and pains in her back, neck, and arm. She thinks it’s because she spends so much time on the computer. “The New Year is here  and I’m determined not to live another year in pain if I can help it. I spend a lot of time on the computer. But after a couple of hours my back starts to hurt, my shoulder and mouse arm ache and I feel tension in my neck. Are there any exercises I can do to relieve this problem?”

Of course I was at my own computer reading that email and I noticed that my computer posture was less than perfect too. So I decided to share my reply to her with you.

I answered: “Sounds like the first thing you need to do is adjust the ergonomics of your computer set-up. Good posture can minimize those aches and pains.

  • Place your monitor at eye level.
  • Find your sit bones (those bones under each hip) and rock sideways to locate them. Balance your torso by sitting on top of those bones.
  • Position your hips and knees at 90 degrees, feet shoulder width apart.
  • If your legs are crossed, uncross them; crossed legs can cause a curvature of the spine.
  • Imagine your head is a helium balloon, lifting your whole spine upwards.
  • Avoid bending your wrist. Keep it in a neutral position.

Even with proper posture, sitting in the same position for hours at a time is bound to cause some stiffness and muscle soreness.

Here are three stretches that should give you some relief.”

Neck Exercise:

Side to side,

  • Place right hand on top of head. Gently pull head sideways, stretching neck towards the right shoulder. Repeat on other side. Hold for 10-20 seconds.

Front Shoulder Stretch

  • Extend right arm in front of you, chest level.
  • Take left hand and cup right elbow
  • Slowly stretch right arm across towards left shoulder. Hold for 10 counts.

Back Extension:

Lower Back

  • Stand with feet slightly apart.
  • Take hands and make two fists and place them on the lower back.
  • Slowly arch backwards, keeping abdominals contracted.
  • Hold for 10-20 counts.

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