Working at a desk all day can put a strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. The situation may be aggravated if you have decided to work from home. It is because you might not be having an ergonomic workstation. However, poor posture can affect your health in various ways such as aches and pains. You can learn ways to improve your posture while working from home or even at work.
Different exercises can help to make you feel much better while spending hours in front of the computer screen. If you are under a lot of stress, your muscles will stay tight even after improving your posture. There is a strong link between back pain, poor posture, and stress. Work-related back pain is the main culprit in the lost productivity. Hence, everyone needs to have a good posture and exercise while working at the computer for long hours.
Good Vs Bad Posture
The first step in knowing how to improve posture while working at a computer is to know the difference between good and bad posture and its effects on physical well-being. Posture refers to the overall alignment of the body and goes beyond simply keeping the spine straight. It is not a difficult thing to find a bad posture around us. Bad posture includes:
- Drooping shoulders.
- A head that tilts forward or backward.
- Protruding tummy.
These symptoms might seem innocent but the complications of the poor posture go far beyond the visual. Joint degeneration, chronic back pain, and a dysfunctional spine can take their toll on sloths. As a result, the strength of the muscle decreases causing a variety of potential injuries.
Good posture, on the other hand, should look graceful and natural. You can start it by:
- Gently pulling the shoulder down and back.
- Keeping the back straight along with head up and chin tucked in.
- Keeping the belly pressed lightly against the spine.
- Balancing the weight between your two feet.
- Trying to breathe and relax after intervals.
Benefits Of Good Posture
The benefits of good posture improve mental and physical well-being. The benefits of good posture are as follows:
- Joints and bones stay healthy for life.
- Increase in productivity due to the optimal flow of blood and oxygen in the body.
- More positive attitude and a better mood.
- Reduced pressure on the vertebrae.
- Considerably, the probability of an accident at work decreases.
Dangers Of Bad Posture
The dangers associated with bad posture might be a surprise for you. They are as follows:
- Difficulty pumping oxygen to the lungs and heart leads to dysfunction of internal organs.
- Poor digestion.
- Reduced oxygen to the brain and heart.
- Mood swings.
- Weakened abdominal muscles.
- Back and neck pain.
How To Improve Posture While Working On A Computer
Now that you are aware of the importance of maintaining a good posture, you can ensure a workplace that promotes an environment for posture and spinal health.
In recent years, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to know the long-term health benefits of standing desks. It has been proven that standing desks increase the energy levels and concentration of the employees while decreasing the risk of developing illnesses caused by inactivity. It is evolutionarily unnatural to sit with a curve in the back. As a result, we keep our spines twisted in an unnatural position.
If one stays bent in the position during the work hours, they strain their back and neck leading to injury. If the traditional workstations are replaced by the standing desks, an employee gets an option to spend a specific time of the day standing. As a result, the pressure is removed from the back and neck which increases the movement and brings the spine to its position.
To properly use the standing desk, you should try to use the 20:8:2 rule. It means 20 minutes sitting, 8 minutes standing, and 2 minutes moving. Also, you can use your phone as a reminder to move and change your posture.
Make sure that the standing desk is at the correct height to minimize the risk of injury. Position the desk in a way that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. As a result, you will be standing and working comfortably and with a straight head. Also, make sure to keep the screen at the arm’s length and the screen should be at or just below eye level.
According to a study, all work-related disabilities worldwide were linked to lower back pain because of the work environment. However, improving the ergonomic environment is one of the key initiatives to minimize the number of lower back pain cases. The first place is to start with the computer desk at home or office which contributes significantly to maintaining a good posture while working at the computer.
For an ergonomic environment, good-quality ergonomic chairs can support the spine. They promote good posture and prevent any kind of injury related to bad posture. Other simple changes can be made within an existing environment such as:
- Keep the feet flat on the floor.
- Sit back against the backrest.
- Maintain a 90-120-degree bend in the wrists.
- Keep the screen at or slightly below eye level.
How you support your neck is critical to your spinal health and your risk of developing an injury on the job. Straining to view a computer screen too close or too far away, or juggling two screens while twisting the neck instead of swivel chair motion compromises good posture. It strains the muscles and joints, especially the back, shoulders, and neck.
- Use a document holder to avoid constantly looking up and down.
- Keep tools you use frequently such as a mouse or headset close to you to avoid reaching them.
- If you just have a laptop, consider getting a monitor raise.
- If you use a laptop, link it to the larger screen or monitor. In this case, look between the monitors by moving the swivel chair instead of moving the neck from side to side.
- Increase the font size to reduce the forward tension.
- Raise the chair so the eyes are level with the top of the screen.
Get Moving And Don’t Forget To Stretch
Movement is one of the most important and easiest ways to maintain good posture while working at a computer. Implementing a movement program to stretch and take regular short walks will help to reduce the existing pain and prevent future injuries.
As a general rule, everyone should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It can be as simple as taking a walk. Instead of using escalators, use stairs while going for a lunch break. Also, take short breaks to stretch throughout the day to relax the mind, and body to get the muscles in shape. During a break, quick mental exercises can put you in the right frame of mind that boosts your productivity.
Why Is Movement So Important?
Prolonged sitting not only encourages the damaging symptoms of poor posture and slouching but also causes a variety of health issues. If you sit for long with a poor posture, you might end up having heart disease or obesity. While working at a computer for long hours, increasing the physical activity can reduce such health issues such as:
- Stronger joints, bones, and muscles.
- Good mental health and better mood.
- Aid in weight control.
- Heart disease prevention.
You can try stretching at work as follows:
- Place the forearm against the door frame and bend the elbow at 90°.
- Gently twist the body in the opposite direction as far as possible.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat it 3 times for each side.
Upper Back Stretch
- Sit on a chair and make a cross by placing the hands in front of the chest.
- Keep the lower back still and gently lean back to arch the upper back as much as possible.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Stand up straight and gently roll the shoulders forward in a circular motion.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Now gently roll the shoulders backward in a circular motion.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Stand up straight with your hand behind the back.
- Tilt the ear to the shoulder using the hand to gently apply the pressure to the head. It helps to stretch the neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each side.
Good Posture – How Is It Good For Your Spine
Even if we don’t think about it, posture at work is essential. It plays an important role in general well-being and daily health. The major cause of back pain, muscle stiffness, and eye strain are bad posture or ineffective ergonomics while working at the computer. With a bad posture, you not only get back pain and increase the risk of future injuries, but you also lose motivation to work.
Luckily, there are plenty of tips to maintain good posture while working at the computer. You can increase productivity and protect your muscles, joints, and bones from future injuries. A standing desk can be a way to have a good posture while working and you can follow the 20:8:2 rule. Ergonomics, on the other hand, helps to have a good posture. Also, moving and stretching after intervals can save you from back pain and other health issues such as heart disease, obesity, mental health, etc.