If you’re like the majority of the world, you probably spend the majority of your day at the computer. Whether it’s for work or for something personal, we’re usually at our desks. Doing something that requires being at a desk isn’t bad in itself, but not everyone practices proper computer posture — which is where the trouble lies.
Sitting improperly for long hours may lead to many consequences; one of them being back, neck, and other bodily pains. In fact, studies have shown that around 16 million adults experience chronic back pain, which greatly limits their daily activities.
How Much Poor Posture Is Hurting You
Even with the correct posture, sitting for long periods of time is still detrimental to your health. Working at a computer can bring many consequences.
Compared to standing, sitting requires less muscle effort but still causes physical fatigue. This is because you need to hold your muscle for long periods of time.
When this happens, blood circulation is reduced to your bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. As a result, this may lead to stiffness and pain. Common computer-related aches also include back, neck, shoulder, and arm pains.
When you slouch, your abdominal organs get compressed and this includes your digestive tract. If this is too often of an occurrence, the risk for heartburn, slow digestion, and even nutrition deficiency increases.
Your metabolism may also slow down because your digestive tract is packed in, making it hard for food to pass through.
Teeth Problems and Jaw Pain
Leaning forward while sitting at your desk can cause you to clench your teeth. If this happens for too long and too often, it can result in:
- Pain in the jaw
- Headache (which can also be caused by the tightness of the neck muscles from slouching)
- Potentially temporomandibular joint pain, which is also known as TMJ
What Is the Correct Computer Posture?
Proper computer posture is usually taught in school. However, not everyone follows it. Some may even have forgotten what exactly is the correct posture.
For Your Chair
- Sit with your back staring, your shoulders pulled back, and your buttocks touching the end of the seat.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees at the same level as your hips, so adjust your seat accordingly.
- Do not cross your legs when sitting as it restricts blood from flowing.
- Sitting is the new smoking, so stand up stretch or walk around every 30 minutes.
- Do not lean on any side and keep your hips even.
For Your Screen
- Your computer screen should be centered and above your keyboard.
- The top of our screen should be about 2-3” above eye level when you’re seated.
- Your neck and head should be at an upright angle, with your ears aligned to your shoulder. If you tilt your head forward even by just 15 degrees, the weight of your head doubles, and the pressure on your neck increases, possibly causing “Texter’s Neck.”
- There should at least be an arm’s length of distance between you and your keyboard. If your vision is blurry, wear glasses.
For Your Keyboard, Arms, and Wrists
- Just like your screen, the keyboard area you use the most should be at the center.
- If you have armrests, they should be adjusted where your elbows are at 100 to 110 degrees at an open angle.
- If you are sitting upright, your keyboard should be tilted slightly negatively. If you’re reclined, tilt your keyboard slightly upwards so your wrists stay in a neutral position. You can achieve this with a keyboard tray.
- If you were unsuccessful with finding a fully adjustable keyboard tray, adjust the height of your workstation and chair. Make sure to get a footrest so your feet don’t dangle.
- Get a wristrest to keep your wrists in a neutral position. However, do not rest your wrists on the pads when you’re not typing. When there is too much pressure on the undersurface of your wrist, the risk for problems like carpal tunnel syndrome increases.
Recommended Habits and Exercises
Correcting bad habits is never easy but it’s a matter of good health. In the beginning, it may feel unsettling to sit in the proper posture but your body will get used to it, and your health definitely will benefit in the long run.
Try to take a break as well every 30 minutes. During this break, make sure to:
- Walk around
- Do ergonomic exercises
- Turn off the monitor so you can rest your eyes