Working Safely at the Computer

woman working at the computer desk

An estimated 65 million Americans sit in front of a computer for work, and more than half of Americans have a computer at home too. We know that sitting for long periods isn’t good for you under any circumstances, but when you combine hours of sitting with computer use you have a recipe for back pain.

Though sitting down to a computer and working may seem like a pretty straightforward motion and action, the truth is that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it.  By learning the “to-dos” and the “don’t dos”, you can keep your back healthy and keep yourself pain free. Here’s what you need to know.

Pay Attention to Your Posture

When you sit down to your computer, take a moment to look at your positioning. To get a really good sense of how you’re sitting, tell a co-worker that you want to check your posture and ask them to circle back in a bit and take a photo of you when you’re not looking.

Take a close look at where your head is in relation to your shoulders, whether you’re close to your computer or reaching, and where your monitor is in relation to your eyes. Your head should be straight above your shoulders rather than leaned ahead of them, and your mouse should be positioned so that you barely have to move your arm from the keyboard to use it.

Any reaching causes strain to your shoulder or wrist, and over time that will translate into back pain.  Your monitor should be at eye level: if you are looking down or up to see it, then it needs to be repositioned.

Position Your Chair Correctly

For as much time as you’ve put into learning to use your computer and the software you rely on for work, you need to spend at least a few moments to learn the right way to use your chair.

You should be positioned so that your body is only as far away from your monitor as the length of your arm, with the seat high enough to keep your eyes level with the monitor and your feet flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle over your ankles.

If you feel like your lower back is uncomfortable or unsupported, you’re inviting pain. Either get yourself a new chair or a lumbar support pillow to fill the space between your back and the chair.

Though many people think the chair back should be completely vertical, your spine will be more relaxed if it is slightly reclined.

Don’t Just Sit There

No matter how much pressure you’re under or what kind of deadline you have to meet, it is important that you get up and walk away from your desk at least once an hour.

Take the time to take a walk, even if it is just to the bathroom or to refill your water bottle. Better yet, do a minute’s worth of stretching. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.

Get a Headset

If you’re a multi-tasker who is pecking away at your keyboard (or even taking notes on a notepad) at the same time as you’re holding the phone between your head and your shoulder, you’re setting yourself up for severe neck strain.

The best option for keeping your head straight (and your hands free) is to use a headset, or if you’re in your own office to use a speakerphone.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are concerned about your back and neck, we warmly invite you to reach out and make an appointment with Craig C. Callewart, MD PA. At our convenient locations in Dallas and Addison, our dedicated team of professionals will explain your options in full and answer any questions you may have.

Contact us today to set up your consultation!

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