Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For the 80% of Americans with sedentary or office jobs, a large portion of our lives, around 90,000 hours, will be spent sitting in front of a work computer. Additionally, with the surge of popularity in gaming and home entertainment, more people are finding themselves situated in front of computer screens after working hours.
As computer usage increases, so does the number of desk-related injuries. Areas like the shoulder, lower back, wrist, neck, and eyes are particularly vulnerable to injuries caused by bad computer posture. According to medical professionals, the appearance and worsening of medical conditions such as scoliosis, repetitive strain injury, or carpal tunnel syndrome have a direct correlation with extended periods of bad computer posture. A Harvard Medical School article also linked bad computer posture to incontinence, constipation, heartburn, and slowed digestion.
For many of us, sitting in front of a computer is an unavoidable part of life. However, if we are to spend our days in front of a computer it is best if we do so with the correct posture. This article will teach you the correct computer postures, bad postures that you need to avoid, and tips on maintaining proper posture.
Good posture means that your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are aligned. Sitting with proper alignment improves blood flow, supports your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and helps keep your nerves and blood vessels healthy. Aside from proper alignment, there are other practices and habits that you should remember, here are the four things to look out for when checking your computer posture:
1) Check to see that your monitor is at eye level or slightly below eye level
It is important that your monitor is not too high or too low so you can look at it comfortably without straining your neck. If you are using a laptop, you can use a laptop stand to adjust the height of the laptop display.
2) Check to see that your arms form a 90–120-degree angle, and your wrist and arms are in line
If your chair comes with an armrest, make sure to raise the armrest to a height where your forearms can comfortably rest while you are typing. If you need to move your mouse, do so while maintaining this position, and make small movements with your forearm instead of moving your entire arm.
3) Ensure that your feet are firmly on the ground directly in front of you
If you wear platform shoes or heels, we highly recommend changing to flat-soled shoes while using a computer. If your feet cannot reach the ground, consider getting a footrest.
4) Make sure that your lower back is supported
Lower back injuries are extremely common, which is why most ergonomic computer chairs come with lower back support, also known as lumbar support. If your chair does not come with lumbar support, you can use a pillow as a makeshift cushion.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of good posture, it is also important for you to recognize and avoid bad posture.
1) Avoid slouching
Slouching is the most common posture mistake when using a computer and it is also the leading cause of back-related injuries for office workers. Slouching puts pressure on your spine and can even lead to reduced lung capacity while sitting. The best way to avoid slouching is to practice good posture and if you need a reminder, set an alarm every 30 minutes to remind yourself about maintaining proper computer posture.
2) Avoid over-extending your arm
Over-extending your arms can lead to serious shoulder injuries. Whether you are reaching for a phone, a drink, or you just moving your mouse, it is essential that you adjust the height of your chair’s armrests, so your elbows are at a 90–120-degreepen angle.
3) Avoid resting your wrist on non-padded surfaces
When using the keyboard and mouse, avoid resting your wrist on the edge of the computer or table. If you need to rest your wrist, we suggest purchasing foam keyboard pads and mouse pads with a wrist rest.
4) Avoid crossing your legs
Your body is only fully supported when your feet are firmly on the ground, so it is important to not cross your legs for prolonged periods while using the computer.
5) Avoid wearing bifocal glasses
The lens of bifocal glasses are segmented into two parts; the upper part of the lens is built for long distances and the lower part is built for short distances. Users of bifocal glasses usually develop a habit of tilting their heads up and down to read the computer screen. Repetitive head movements can cause neck and shoulder injuries, so it is best to put down your bifocals when using the computer.
Maintaining proper posture is not easy. The body will naturally try to put itself into different positions, so here are some tips for maintaining good posture while working on the computer:
1) Get a non-reflective height-adjustable monitor
Being able to easily see the entire monitor is especially important to avoid neck strain. It is vital to minimize reflection on the monitor and to be able to adjust the monitor’s height. A good non-reflective height-adjustable monitor is the Predator XB3.
2) Get an ergonomic mouse
As explained earlier, improperly using a mouse can easily cause wrist and shoulder strains. Therefore, it is important to get an ergonomic mouse such as the Predator Cestus 310 making it easier to prevent overstraining.
3) Get an ergonomic computer chair and desk
A proper height adjustable computer desk and an ergonomic chair will do wonders for your posture. While any ergonomic chair will be good, the best ergonomic computer chair for posture is the Predator Thronos Air. Not only is it a chair, but it is also a complete ergonomic computer station that comes with a fully adjustable desk and monitor stand that is designed with ergonomics in mind.
4) Exercise and take stretch breaks
Your body is designed to be in motion and maintaining a fixed position for extended periods of time can be harmful to the body; it is important to take a few seconds to stretch and loosen your limbs. Studies have shown that quick stretch breaks can decrease the rate of desk-related injuries by 76%. Jake from Performance Esports has a good set of stretches and exercises you can follow.
We hope the tips above help you maintain proper posture and help you prevent injury related to computer usage.