Experts have recently declared that “sitting is the new smoking”.

This really is not what you want to hear if you spend the majority of your time working at a desk!  Having a sedentary job or spending too many hours working or playing on a computer can put a tremendous amount of strain on your body.  Many of these aches and pains can be minimized by making sure that your computer is set up in the correct position and that you are seated properly.

TIPS ON HOW TO SET UP YOUR COMPUTER PROPERLY:
  1. Computer Monitor: The top of the monitor should be at eye level, and slightly lower for bifocal wearers.  Having a specific pair of glasses just for computer use will minimize strain on the neck that bifocal wearers often experience.  The screen distance should be 18-24″ away.
  1. Joint Angles: The upper arms should be in a relaxed vertical position with the elbows bent to 90 degrees and resting on arm rests of proper height.  The low back should seated against the back of the chair, with some lumbar support. You can roll up a small towel to put in the small of your back if your chair does not have this feature.  The chair height and seat depth should allow for the hips and knees to be bent at 90 degrees, and the feet should be positioned on the floor, either flat or on an angled foot rest.  This will help prevent forward head posture where the chin is poking out ahead of the body.  The ear openings should be aligned between the shoulders for good neck alignment.
  1. Wrist and Hand position: The keyboard should be positioned at the end of your hands when the elbows are positioned properly.  The wrists should be able to rest in a neutral.  The mouse should also be at this level.  Many neck, shoulder, elbow and hand pains can be alleviated by making this small change.  Do not use the mouse with your arm floating out in space.  This happens when the mouse is positioned too far away, or on top of the desk.  Keep the forearm close to you and parallel to the floor.  Rest your fingers on the mouse and don’t hold your fingers up in the air between clicks.

Take frequent rest breaks and get up and move.  Small periodic stretch breaks can also help, such as stretching the arms up and out to the side to open up the chest muscles which tend to get tight if a person slouches at  the computer for long periods.  If you work for long periods at a computer, make an effort to incorporate an exercise routine into your day.  Get your body moving and counteract the effects of “the new smoking”!  Physiotherapists can prescribe a specific exercise program to do at your desk.  If you are experiencing persistent aches and pains linked to using your computer, give us a call at 613-692-1847 or email us at office@manotickphysioworks to see if we can help!

By: Cathy Cooney

Registered Physiotherapist/Clinic Co-Owner

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