As a McKenzie certified physical therapist, I work with many people experiencing neck and back pain, often exacerbated by postures held for long periods at the computer. One of the first things we address is postural correction. Sit in a relaxed posture, then pull your head up and back and chest up so you’re in an overcorrected posture, then back off about 10%. This is likely a good posture for you.
It is important to note that it is NOT necessary to sit with ‘good posture’ at all times. However, it IS important to correct your posture and/or change your posture at regular intervals to avoid prolonged strain on tissues. It's also super important to see a physical therapist who can assess your whole body to determine if there are any specific underlying factors contributing to your pain and postural dysfunction.
Here are some tips to help you maintain good posture at work:
- Adjust your chair. Make sure your chair is adjusted to the correct height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are level with your hips. Your chair should also have good lumbar support to help maintain the natural curve of your lower back. I recommend the McKenzie Lumbar Roll as an additional support as most office chairs are lacking.
- Position the monitor. Your computer monitor should be at eye level to avoid tilting your head up or down. This will help prevent neck and shoulder pain. If you use two monitors, ensure they are placed side by side, squarely in front of you so you can move between them using your eyes and not have to rotate your body.
- Position the keyboard. Your keyboard should be placed in a position where your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle and close enough to your body that you do not have to lean forward in order to type. If you are using a laptop, invest in a detachable keyboard and place your laptop on books to elevate the screen.
- Take breaks. Every 30 minutes or so, you should stand up, stretch, and walk around to help prevent muscle fatigue and stiffness.
- Use a headset. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, use a headset to avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder, which can cause neck and shoulder pain.
- Exercise. I encourage my patients to exercise regularly to strengthen their upper and lower back muscles to strengthen the postural muscles. Exercises such as prone cobra, swimmers, and bird dogs can be done at home or at work.
If you are experiencing pain and live/work in the Denver area, contact me at Activcore DTC to schedule a postural evaluation.
- Posture and Back Health
- Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
- These 12 Exercises Will Help You Reap the Health Benefits of Good Posture
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.