Office workers, freelancers, and students (to name a few) spend the vast majority of their days in front of a computer. But what are the physical repercussions? According to a study conducted by researchers at Boston University, other than eyestrain, 50% of university students said theyexperience neck and back pains. In most cases, being hunched over a computer is to blame.Posture that Leads to Back Problems
The human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Actually, the seated position is one completely invented by modern human beings, a chair is something that just doesn’t exist in the natural world. Our bodies are actually built to be on the move.
Prehistoric humans relied on mobility as part of their survival tactics in hunting and protection. The physical lives we live today are a far cry from how humanity once existed. Most of our time is spent indoors and the majority of work we do requires much less physical labor.
The Cornell University Department of Ergonomics explains that up to90% more pressure is put on your backwhen you are seated compared to when you’re standing.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time alone can lead to back problems, but paired with bad posture can lead to irreversible spine damage. Now, this isn’t to say that you should stop sitting all together, that’d be nearly impossible and honestly pretty tiring for the average person. Actually the negative effects of sitting down don’t start showing themselves immediately but rather overtime. The stress build up can eventually lead toanatomical changes in your spinethat can cause severe pain due to constriction of nerves and blood vessels. The pain can concentrate on the neck and back, but could also radiate into the extremities, which can cause discomfort even to the legs and arms.
So instead of installing standing desks wherever we work and panicking when we need to sit down in our cars or on the subway here are somecommon posture mistakesthat we can simply avoid:
- You’re looking down at your screen, phone, or desk, and your head tips forward.
- Your shoulders are rolled forward.
- You’re leaning forward from your lower back
- Your elbows are too far away from your body.
- You hold your phone to your ear.
- You’re seated for too long (you should be standing for 15-30 minutes per hour.)
The Side Effects of Bad Posture on your Health
Having bad posture does not only cause back problems. Many experts have shared other effects of bad posture on your health:
- Headaches – Hunching over puts strain on the muscles of the neck which can ultimately cause headaches.
- Bad Mood– A study found out that people who sit with a slumped postureexhibited more negative moods, more fear, and lower self-esteem than those who sat upright.
- Fatigue– Having a poor posture makes your body work harder to keep you upright which can end up leaving you feeling tired.
- High blood pressure– According to research from the University of Leeds, slumping and slouchingraises blood pressure.
- Sleep problems– Poor posture can lead tosleep problemsaccording to physicians at Collins Chiropractic. Lack of sleep has been proven to cause anumber of serious medical conditionssuch as heart disease and obesity.
Tips for better and healthier computer or laptop usage
When bad posture becomes a habit it becomes increasingly more difficult to re-teach our bodies how to sit correctly. There are two important things we can do to help minimize, or even eliminate, the effects of having bad posture. Firstly, if you can, minimize the amount of time you spend on your devices. The nature of our computers and phones cause us to slouch over them and if you can cut out your usage you will ultimately cut out the time you spend slumped over. Secondly, we can practice the ideal way of sitting down to lessen the chances of a sore back. As cutting out computer usage may be impossible for some who work a desk job this alternative is suited for everyone, and even if you’re cutting down your usage as well you can try this out.
Here are some easy ways to sit correctly:
- Keep screen at eye level– If your screen is too low, this will cause your head to point down causing neck and backaches. If it is too high, this can lead to dry eye syndrome. The top of your screen should be at your eye level and your eyes should be slightly looking down at a ten-degree angle.
- Use a separate keyboard and mouse for a laptop– Laptops are not designed for prolonged use because the screen and the keyboard are too close together that they can’t both be in good positions at the same time. The best thing for you to do is to place your laptop on top of a stack of books so the screen is at an eye-level and use a separate keyboard and mouse so your elbows can rest at 90° by your side.
- Stable base– If using your laptop, make sure it’s on a stable base and not on your lap so you have support for your arms.
- Adopt good sitting posture – Your hips should be as far back as they can go in the chair and your feet need to be flat on the floor. Your knees should be equal or slightly lower than your hips. If you have an adjustable chair, adjust it to a 100°-110° reclined angle so your upper and lower back is supported.
- Take regular breaks– The World Health Organization recommends that an adult should partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. That’s only 30 minutes of exercise for 5 out of 7 days. While working make sure to get up and walk around at least every 30 minutes. These breaks don’t have to be time-consuming and will improve your overall well being.
Being aware is one of the most important things when it comes to bad posture. If you’re slumped over your computer, focused on a deadline, it may be easy to forget that you’re slowly morphing into Quasimodo. If you need to set reminders for yourself do so. A message that pops up on your screen every 30 minutes of the day to remind you to sit up straight. It’s a small effort for a huge gain. Maintaining a strongtech/life balanceis key, and as helpful as our computers and smartphones are in getting work done we need to remain aware of the physical toll they can often take if we’re not paying attention.
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Originally appeared on www.goboldfish.com