Many people spend the majority of their workday sitting at a desk in front of a computer—an activity that often leads to spine and neck pain. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to minimize this type of discomfort.

Get a comfortable chair. If your work requires you to sit in a chair for most of the day, it’s a good idea to get one that minimizes back strain. Your desk chair should be adjustable and enable you to sit at a comfortable height in relation to your workstation. Adequate lumbar support is also important, whether built into the chair or in the form of a supplementary pad.

There are several ways to minimize the spine and neck pain associated with working at a computer. Photo: Wright’s Chiropractic (2013)

There are several ways to minimize the spine and neck pain associated with working at a computer. Photo: Wright’s Chiropractic (2013)

Maintain proper posture. Even if your desk chair has good lumbar support, it won’t be of much benefit if you have poor posture. Bad habits such as slouching, crossing your ankles and leaning forward in your chair can result in discomfort. Proper posture consists of sitting upright with your spine to the back of your chair, your feet planted on the floor and your head looking straight. Basically, you want every part of your body to be at a 90 degree angle, including elbows, hips and knees.

Make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct. Along with proper posture, the placement and positioning of workspace items is another crucial part of minimizing discomfort. For instance, you should position your keyboard so your elbows are at 90 degree angles while you type, with your lower arms parallel to your thighs and your wrists in a neutral position, not cocked up or down. Make sure your keyboard, mouse and other frequently used tools are easily within reach. Also, your computer monitor should be at the right height in relation to your head, allowing you to sit back and look straight ahead while working.

Take regular breaks. In addition to decreasing blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine, sitting for long periods of time can increase pressure on your back by up to 30 percent. That’s why physicians recommend getting up once every hour to walk around and stretch.

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