One of the greatest differences in the average human life now compared to 50 years ago is the amount of time we spend sitting, looking at a screen. It has been shown that we are not designed for these long periods of sitting up with a bright monitor right in front of their face. There have been several studies showing negative impacts on bone alignment, joint integrity, and vision. However, many issues are simply due to improper posture, which is very easy to combat through a few different focal points.
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At Your Desk
There are a few things you can do whether you are in a home office or at work to make sure you’re doing the most for your body during long hours of sitting at a desk, typing on a computer.
The first thing to do is make sure your monitor is at a good height and distance from you. Aim to have the top edge of your monitor at eye-level with the whole monitor at least 45 cm away, and tilted slightly up. The objective is to be able to comfortably view the whole screen with your back completely straight and without needing to move anything but your eyes, and with a monitor closer to you than 45cm, you risk damaging your eyes. We also recommend following the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break!
Moving down, a very common problem that comes with working on a computer too hard for too many hours is carpal tunnel syndrome. This is when the nerves in your wrist get pinched from using your fingers too much while resting your wrist at an awkward angle. This can be combated by making sure your forearms are parallel to the floor, and your elbows are at your side. Try not to rest your wrists on any hard surface or at too sharp of an angle for too long. If holding them up gets tiring, it is a good idea to invest in a mouse pad with a wrist rest and a raised, padded wrist rest for your keyboard as well.
Next, your back should have your pelvis tilted slightly forward. You want your weight more focused on the upper thigh than on your tailbone. This will help your shoulders and neck to relax so you won’t feel stiff the next day. Keep your back slightly arched with your neck and spine aligned. You don’t want your head to be turned all the time to view your work.
Now, for how to adjust your chair. Against popular belief, it is ok to use your backrest, as long as you make sure your back stays with your pelvis tilted slightly. It is actually encouraged as it will take some weight off of both your shoulders and buttocks. It is important to make sure that your posture stays proper despite having something to lean on, as a back-rest makes it much easier to slouch.
Finally, there is even a specific way to keep your feet and legs. It is important to keep your feet flat on something, preferably the floor. This helps keep your feet relaxed, and stops you from crossing your legs. Crossing your legs results in more weight being placed on one leg or the other. These positions are likely to make you slouch, as well as trying to maintain symmetrical weight distribution in every way is important for the alignment of bones and making sure nothing is out of place for too long. If your feet can not quite touch the ground, you can get a footrest, or simply a box to keep your feet flat. Don’t forget to have breaks every so often to avoid dormant butt syndrome.
At Your Standing Desk
An even better way to improve your posture is to get a standing desk. This does not instantly fix all your problems though. For starters, your arms, monitor adjustment, head and upper back must follow the same rules as at a sitting desk. It is also important to keep your knees bent slightly, as locking your knees can result in a lack of blood flow. This can make you lose focus, feel lightheaded or even faint. It is also a good idea to occasionally shift your weight between legs. This gives the off-leg time to rest, and as with everything in posture, keeps your impact to your legs evenly distributed. Wearing high heels is a very bad idea, and in fact, wearing no shoes is recommended for standing desks, alongside a soft floor, cushion or pad. Ready to make the switch? Shop our range of standing adjustable desks here.
In The Car
Another time that sitting can drastically impact your posture is driving. Many people have increasingly longer and longer commutes, and this time spent sitting behind a steering wheel can result in long term damage to bone structure if you do not sit in the right position. There are three things to do to maintain comfort and good posture while driving. You should recline the back of your seat to an angle of 110 degrees, just past completely upright, but not too far leaned back. Lumbar support is not very accounted for in car seats, so adding a seat pad is never a bad idea. Finally, contrary to previous beliefs of hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, the healthiest, most comfortable, and most controlled hand position is 9 and 3 in traffic or turns, and 5 and 7 on open roads that do not require a lot of control. This takes a lot of tension out of the shoulders because of the option of resting your elbows on your legs, and keeping your elbows closer to your sides
Finally, after a long day of maintaining proper posture at your work desk, standing desk, and commute, you get home and collapse into your couch to binge the latest netflix comedy. However, this too can impact your posture if done wrong, and can have several health benefits if done right. For example, having a leg rest or having your legs parallel to the ground helps blood flow and actually puts less strain on your heart needing to pump blood against gravity. It is important not to have your head turned at an awkward angle to view the screen, and if it is up high, support your neck with a pillow. Last but not least, lumbar support in the form of a small back pillow or pad (just like in the car) is highly recommended.