Extended Computer Use + Sitting = Back Pain!

It comes as no surprise in this age of computers that a large percentage of us are required to sit at a computer for most, if not all of the workday.

However, we rarely think about the effect of this work requirement on our bodies until we start to have severe pain & limitations while attempting to work through the day.

Even though we might think of sitting at a computer as fairly easy in terms of physical toll on our body, if we think about it in terms of the history of the human body & what it has become adapted to do over the millennia, a computer job is VERY STRESSFUL on our body.

But, not to worry, ERGONOMICS is here.

There is a way to decrease the overall stress on our body by changing our workstation for optimal positioning so that our bodies don’t scream out in neck or back pain at the end of a long day in the cubicle.

The two most common pathologies that I have treated that stem from poor ergonomics at work are Cervicogenic Headaches and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Many people are familiar with Carpal Tunnel, however less are aware that their headaches.

The most important adjustment to decrease these Cervicogenic headaches is the computer screen position. Ideally, when you attempt to sit up straight in your work chair, the computer screen is level with your eyes & line of sight.

Many times instead of the screen being level, it is below or line of sight so our tendency over time is to lean forward & down towards the screen. This position locks out our upper cervical spine; which results in joint irritation. This irritation is the underlying cause of Cervicogenic headaches.

One contributing factor for the development of Carpal Tunnel is poor ergonomics with arm & keyboard positioning.

The best position for your arms is at your side at a 90 degree angle. The further away from this ideal position your arms are, the more likely you will develop numbness & tingling in your hands.

Many times it is easier to visualize the correct ergonomics rather than read about it, so I have attached two pictures that help to visualize what I have been describing.

The first picture attached breaks down very specific components of a proper ergonomic alignment.

     

Picture recovered from: http://www.progressivecare.in/ergonomics/

And this second picture helps to compare & contrast a proper sitting alignment with a less than ideal posture that we tend to fall into when sitting for a prolonged time.

     

Picture recovered from: https://www.physicalperformancesolutions.com/to-fix-forward-head-posture-you-may-need-to-look-at-your-assets/

 

One good thought that I have come across that helps with the feel of proper seated posture is to pretend like you actually have a tail!

When you are seated, pretend like you have a tail that is still attached to your Sacrum (AKA your tailbone!). If after imagining like you have a tail, that tail would be tucked underneath your body, correct that by altering your sacral position and stick your tail out.

Using the second picture, you can see that the correct seated position would result in her “tail” falling behind her body & between the two cushions of her chair. The improper seated position would result in her “tail” being tucked up underneath her body.

So remember to protect your tail!

Kauai Therapy & Wellness Ph. 208-205-9559