We’re all guilty of slouching at our computer screens for hours on end and maintaining poor posture, and not just at work either. The growth of social media and the filtration of the internet into our everyday lives now means that we are also doing this at home and in our leisure time. The health implications of long hours spent maintaining bad posture bent in front of a screen or monitor are significant and unfortunately remain largely unpublicized.
Bad computer posture invariably leads to forward head posture, one of the most common abnormal postures in our society. It is estimated that ninety percent of the population has some degree of forward head posture. If not corrected, forward head posture can cause a host of issues including mid-back and low-back complications as well as head and neck pain, and that’s just a start.
The problem is so widespread that electronics giant Phillips is planning to release what it calls the ErgoSensor monitor (see video). The monitor utilises smart technology such as in built sensors and eye tracking software to detect a users postural positions and provide visual feedback that prompts the user to adjust their positioning
If you slump down it’ll suggest that you sit up straighter. Are you too close? Is your neck tilted too much? sensors tell you how to adjust your body to achieve ergonomic correctness. The monitor can also inform you that it’s time to stand up and take a break, and it will automatically power down when it senses that you’ve left.
Whilst the development of such technology is a good thing, the fact of the matter is that not everyone will be able to afford it. And the costs associated with deploying it cross an entire workforce may be prohibitive for most businesses. The question also arises as to whether being told by a machine what to do and when to it, (even if it is in our own best interest) leads to the formation of any real long term habit forming practices. After all, for some people being told what to do by your boss or employer can sometimes be bad enough. The thought therefore of having your a machine tell you what to do when they’re not around could perhaps lead to a certain level of resentment.
As always one can’t help but assume that the only way to proper health is through education and self determined application. As Joseph himself said:
“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” ~ Joseph Pilates
So in that spirit here are some free tips to help improve your computer posture:
1. Ensure that you desk and computer screen are at the correct height. You should be looking straight ahead at your screen and not down.
2. Keep your back straight. Sit in an upright, straight position at all times. Your lower back should be supported by your chair.
3. Do not slouch. This is implied by sitting up straight. Remember that slouching leads to bad posture.
4. Stretch often. Stretching will help relieve the stress in your muscles and joints and will increase your flexibility and range of motion.
5. Use an ergonomically designed, comfortable chair that promotes good posture. The chair needs to have proper back lumbar support and you need to make use of it.
6. Take a break every thirty minutes. Your spine is made for motion not sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time. Get up and take a walk and stretch, you’ll feel immediately better.
7. Use a posture cushion at home that is designed to reverse bad and forward head posture. Posture cushions are a passive and comfortable way to help stretch over-used muscles and strengthen the neglected muscles.