By: Pete Williams
Keeping your body balanced and in proper alignment will always be a challenge in our modern technological society. Sitting at a desk hunched over a computer for much of the day can cause the shoulders to hunch over and the hips to tighten. If not corrected, this can over time lead to back ailments, knee injuries, and other problems. But by making just a few adjustments to your workstation and daily routine, you can create a healthier workspace.
Step 1: Adjust Your Chair
A desk chair should be positioned such that your knees are at the same height as your hips or slightly lower, says Athletes’ Performance physical therapist Thomas Knox. “The angle of the chair should be such that you’re slightly reclined, so about 110 degrees,” he says. “You don’t want it at 90 degrees because being so straight up puts a lot of stress on the back.” Knox isn’t a fan of using lumbar support such as a rolled-up towel because it forces the spine into an extension position all day long. As for the armrests, they should support the elbows, which should be bent 90 degrees, and the shoulders relaxed. And your teacher was right-the chair should remain on the floor at all times.
Step 2: Reposition Your Computer
The computer monitor should be positioned straight in front of you so that the angle of your chin is flexed down 20 to 30 degrees. This gives you a natural posture without too much flexion. If you use a mouse, opt for a wireless optical version. They tend to slide easier and can be used from the edge of the desk with your arm at a 90 to 100 degree angle, which puts less strain on the shoulder.
Step 3: Set the Lighting
The brightness of the computer screen, Knox says, should be proportionate to the room. If it’s darker, decrease the brightness. Consider using some sort of glare filter screen to decrease stress on the eyes. “Ideally you want to work in an environment with as much natural light as possible because that’s easiest on the eyes,” Knox says. That’s easier said than done as most office places use fluorescent lights, perhaps the toughest on the eyes.
Step 4: Take Breaks
Take a minute every half hour to correct your posture. This can be as simple as standing and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Or do some Y’s, T’s, W’s, and I’s. This is a good time to give your eyes a rest, by closing them for a minute or focusing on something other than the computer screen. “It’s easy to get in that flexed position from sitting at the desk for even a few hours,” Knox says. “By just spending a few minutes a day going through corrective measures, you’ll literally put yourself in a much better position.”
Todd Elwert Chiropractic