Poor posture causes excessive strain on muscles, joints and ligaments. The human body is not designed to sit in front of computers all day and live a sedentary lifestyle. Muscular aches and pains usually happen when supporting structures are working hard such as holding the neck and back in poor postural positions. The diagram below shows an example of good posture. Notice the vertical line (plumb line), it passes through the ear canal, anterior shoulder, hip bone and ankle joint.
Similarly, when sitting, the plumb line should pass through the ear canal, anterior shoulder and hip bone. When sitting at a desk or computer it is easy to get into bad habits. It is important to remember that back and neck problems such as disc bulges are not a product of one event but a result of excessive strain throughout life. Many injuries that present to physiotherapy stem from poor postural habits or are complicated by this.
When sitting and standing, keep an eye out for:
- Poked chin/forward head position
- Rounded shoulders
- Excessive spinal curves
It is very important that regular breaks are taken these include:
- Eye breaks: prolonged focusing on the screen can dry out and fatigue the muscles. Regular eye breaks recommended (every 15 minutes), to do this look away from the screen to the distance. Relax and blink your eyes several times, then you will be ready to continue.
- Mini breaks: most typing is done in bursts, uses these pauses to relax the hands, do a different task, brief stretching and check your posture.
- Exercise breaks: every 1-2 hours you should do couple of stretches to relax and prevent tightening up after sustaining sitting positions.
Stretches are valuable tools to help relieve muscle tension and maintain balance between muscles. Stretches should be comfortable not painful, usually holding 15-20 seconds. Below are some suggested stretches to try throughout the day.
http://www.shelterpub.com/_fitness/_desk_stretches/stretches_graphic.html for some suggestions and pictures, mainly upper body stretches. To stretch the lower limbs here are some more suggestions:
- Sitting on the edge of your chair, straighten the right leg forward so the heel is on the ground and the toes pulled back towards you. From this position keeping your back straight lean forwards. Hold 15 sec., swap legs.