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More than 80% of American workers have desk jobs, which often places them in front of computers. For many, this can add up to nearly eight hours or more five days a week at a desk, not including the time spent sitting in a vehicle while driving to and from work. As recent research proves, those who are mainly sedentary are more at risk for a variety of health concerns, including obesity and heart disease. While regular exercise can eliminate some of these concerns, one concern that remains is the propensity for back, shoulder, and neck pain in white collar workers. Learning how to maintain proper posture while seated at a desk can eliminate many of these common muscle aches and pains.
Choose the Right Chair
Those who spend a great deal of time at a desk should invest in an ergonomically correct chair with proper back support. The best desk chair will be one with adjustable height as well as armrests. If there is not an ergonomic chair available at your office, purchase a portable back support, which can be moved from chair to chair and is used for supporting the lumbar spine. You should talk to an Occupational Therapist to find out what kind of support you need most.
Pick Proper Computer Placement
You can significantly reduce the strain on your neck and upper back by using correct positioning of the computer monitor. Of course, it is easier to position a desktop computer screen than it is to adjust a laptop screen so see if you can get an adjustable monitor. Your head should be approximately 18 inches from the screen, and the top of the screen should be at the level of your eyes.
Consider Arms and Wrists
When sitting at a keyboard, your arms should be parallel to the floor, and the elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. This reduces the amount of time the arms are stretched out in front of the body, which decreases shoulder and upper back pain. Adjusting the height of the chair can improve arm location as well.
Many ergonomic chairs are created to automatically tilt the lower back and pelvis forward correctly. However, those sitting in regular chairs should be sure to lean forward a bit at the pelvis to decrease neck strain. You should never scoot the legs forward on the chair while leaning back, because this will quickly create achy muscles.
Keep Feet on the Floor
The feet should always be placed flat on the floor. Not only does this help with blood circulation, but also it decreases lower back fatigue. Shorter individuals may need to adjust chair height or find a footstool to achieve this.
Consult a Professional
Those already suffering from back pain may need to visit a medical professional. Sometimes, a chiropractor may be able to offer help without the use of medication, or another option would be to consult a therapist who has been through an accredited occupational therapy education program.
Take a Break
Surprisingly, one great way to improve posture is to get up and move. Changing positions and using the back muscles while walking can decrease muscle aches by increasing blood circulation. Those who cannot get away from their desks frequently can at least stand up briefly and stretch from time to time.
Those who are young or who do not suffer with chronic back pain, may not initially notice any back pain from poor posture. However, after months or years of sitting at a desk for work, poor posture can take its toll. Implementing each of these seven steps will certainly decrease or eliminate much of the stress on your muscles and spinal column.