A common reason to see people in our clinic is aches and pains associated with working at the computer. Computer use invites you to sit in the same position for long periods. The problem is compounded too in that now it’s common to go home from a day of work and find recreation…on the computer! A combination of both poor positioning and too much time spent in that position can cause posture to change in ways that eventually become painful.
- muscles around the upper back and shoulder blades can lengthen and lose strength. Not good because these muscles help hold your chest posture upright and open which you need for everything from skeletal alignment to healthy breathing.
- a slumped chest lets the muscles shorten and the shoulders turn in leading to chest tightness and shoulder (even rotator cuff) pain
- the nerve bundling which traverses from the neck to the hands can become compressed, contributing to arm and hand symptoms
- the low back becomes rounded, lengthening and weakening the low back supporting muscles
What can you do?
- Sit tall. It doesn’t have to be with tension. Just sit tall but let your shoulders be soft and don’t confuse relaxing (think soft shoulders and neck) with slumping.
- Keep your shoulders a little more square but don’t haul the shoulders back. Too much of a good thing can be uncomfortable too.
- For alignment, think of keeping the back of your head over your tailbone. A little bit either way is not crucial but you want to be in the ballpark. Think of it as your homepage. Move away from it as often as you like but make it the place you return to. Obviously a decent chair and a support for the low back can make the job easier but you still have to make the effort to come back to the right place.
Next post I’ll talk about some exercises that can help with improving strength and alignment.