Computer Posture: Are You Making Work Harder Than it Should be?

Is your computer posture correct? Do you suffer from neck pain, a burning between your shoulder blades, lower back pain, headaches, digestive problems, breathing difficulties, eye strain ... the list goes on. All of the above could be related to how you sit at your PC for hours at a time every day, barely moving, eyes fixed on the screen with deadlines to meet.

If you have adjusted the position of your chair, computer screen and mouse but still find you suffer from the conditions mentioned above? You’re not alone and for good reason. Whilst you can easily re-arrange your furniture it is not so simple to follow the instructions aimed at the human elements, that is, your body.

Following advice on sitting correctly, such as, sitting straight with the shoulders back etc, is not as easy as it sounds. This is because the majority of adults have developed a poor body concept. What does this mean? We have lost the art of natural poise and movement through our sedentary lifestyles. Your computer posture is just one situation where it can go wrong.

I have taught many people about movement and posture over the last 12 years and one issue that usually comes up is the matter of sitting at a computer. Many make the mistake of trying to sit up too straight and tighten their lower backs, causing more harm than good. As soon as people learn not to try and sit up straight, they find it so much easier!

Early warning signs that should not be ignored.

Any discomfort experienced at your computer is a sign you are doing something wrong. You may not be too concerned if the aches and pains you associate with your work disappear at weekends. But prolonged periods (and we could be talking years) of sitting in a poor position will alter your posture gradually until you begin to suffer all the time.

More serious signs that require you to take instant action are tightness or numbness in your fingers, hands, wrists, elbows or shoulders. This could soon lead to upper limb disorders, also known as repetitive strain injury (RSI). This is a difficult condition to treat successfully and in a many cases the sufferer has to change job completely to one not involving computers - not an easy career move to make in today's hi-tech world!

If you experience any of the above symptoms, talk to your Occupational Health Advisor or visit your doctor.

The longer these conditions persist the harder it will be to treat.

So your computer posture can have a huge influence on not only how productive you are at work, whether you get aches or pains, but also your body shape! You probably don't want to look old before your time, but if you pay little attention to how you sit at your PC you could be rapidly attaining the stoop normally associated with old age.

Remember, you don't have to sit up straight with your chin in, shoulders back will only cause more problems in the long-term. Just allow your body to be poised and let the chair and floor support your weight and remember to take breaks away from you computer.

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Roy Palmer is a teacher of movement re-education and author of 7 Seconds to Pain Relief, secrets of lasting relief from back, neck & shoulder pain. He has helped back pain
sufferers, sports people and performing artists over the last 12 years. He is also the author of three books on the subject of performance enhancement, injury prevention and rehabilitation for athletes.

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