Many of my clients have jobs which mean they are sat working at a computer for many hours a day. Poor posture sitting at a desk all day can lead to various issues including:
- Forward head posture
- Rounded shoulders
- Back pain
- Twisted one side of the body
Sitting for prolonged periods of time in a poor position can also lead to more serious long term problems such as degeneration of the intervertebral discs. As we can’t all change our jobs or retire then we should improve our posture in order to protect our bodies.
Finding the correct position
- You should sit as far back in the chair as possible and be balanced on your seat bones with your weight distributed evenly across the buttocks.
- Your chair should be adjustable and supportive. You should adjust the height of your seat until your eye line is level with the upper half of the monitor.
- Your head should be straight; looking straight ahead at the monitor and not drawn forward or turned.
- Shoulders should feel wide across the collarbones, with the shoulder blades sliding gently down the back.
- Your arms should be close to your sides with the elbows feeling heavy.
- Forearms and wrists should be straight and supported on the desk.
- You should ensure you are not reaching for the mouse.
- Feet should be flat (supported by a foot rest if need be) and the thighs should be at a right angle.
If you have been used to sitting in a slouched position then the above changes will feel very strange initially. You may also find that you are starting to work muscles that aren’t used to being worked. However, it is important to persevere in finding the best position as it will lead to less strain on the spine, muscles and joints.
As well as ensuring your chair and computer are in the right positions for you, some regular stretches will also help to alleviate tension. Here are some simple exercises you can do without even leaving your desk!
5 Simple Stretches
1) Neck Stretch. Allow your right ear to drop toward the right shoulder. Hold it there for three deep breaths. From that position, roll the head down so that the chin comes toward the chest. Hold for three deep breaths. Roll the head so that the ear is on the left shoulder and hold for three breaths. Then let the head roll back and hold, feeling the stretch through the front of the neck. Come back to centre and then repeat but roll the head the other way.
2) Neck Retraction. Feel the back of the neck lengthen, with the crown of the head gently reaching toward the ceiling. Keeping the head facing straight ahead, slide the head back, keeping the chin down like you are trying to create a double chin. The chin should not move up or down, just retract backwards. Hold for three deep breaths. Repeat several times a day.
3) Shoulder Rolls. Sitting up tall but being careful not to hollow the lower back, let the arms gently hang by your sides and then circle the shoulders back, imagine you are drawing big circles with your shoulders. Feel the shoulder blades come closer together as you circle the shoulders round. Then circle the shoulders forward. Repeat several times a day.
4) Spine Twist. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor or a rest (they should be if you followed the points above!). Lengthen the spine, keeping the abs engaged place your right hand on the left arm rest. Keep the hips facing forward and gently turn your upper body to look over your left shoulder. You can increase the stretch by gently pulling the arm rest towards your body. Hold the stretch for three deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
5) Chest Stretch. Sit to the front of the chair with the feet flat on the floor and spine lengthened, engage the abs. Interlace your fingers behind your back with your palms facing your back. Lean forwards a little bit and lift the arms as high as you comfortably can, slide the shoulders away from the ears and hold for three deep breaths.
If you can manage to do these stretches on a daily basis you will soon feel the benefits. Combined with ensuring that your office desk is set up correctly you will go a long way to reducing some of the poor posture habits.