How to Avoid Neck and Back Pain While Using the Computer
Posture ranks at the top of the list for good health. It is as important as eating right, exercising, getting a good night's sleep and avoiding harmful substances. Unnatural alignment of the body can cause head, shoulder, neck and back pain. It can also compromise neurological, digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular functioning.
"We spend a large portion of our lives sitting, especially during the computer age, so it's important to learn to sit tall," says Dr. Marvin Arnsdorff, author of "Pete the Posture ParrotT: Dinosaur Dreams" (Body Mechanics Press, www.bodymechanics.com). "One of the most common mistakes we make is that when we move into a sitting position, we tend to aim for the center of the chair. The proper method is to sit deep in your chair."
Unquestionably, children and adults alike spend more time at computers today than 20 years ago. Arnsdorff offers nine tips to keep your posture perfect when you're at the computer:
- Sit up straight and deep in the seat. Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest.
- Keep your lower arms level with the desk and keep your wrists straight. This helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Sit close enough to your keyboard to eliminate stretching but far enough to avoid leaning. Your shoulders should be back, and your head should be directly over your shoulders.
- Tap the keyboard lightly. Don't pound.
- Place your mouse within easy reach of your dominant hand. Hold the mouse loosely.
- Place the monitor at eye level, 16 to 24 inches away.
- Take short stretch breaks every 20 minutes.
- Exercise your eyes frequently. Look away and focus on distant objects.
- Periodically look up at the ceiling to give your posture muscles a break.
Good posture and body mechanics are important for maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system. They even help boost self-esteem. See www.bodymechanics.com for more information on how kids of all ages can keep their backs healthy.
Arnsdorff is a practicing doctor of chiropractic medicine, a certified injury-prevention specialist and a leader of the children's ergonomics movement. He is the author of "Pete the Posture ParrotT: Dinosaur Dreams," the first children's book to address backpack safety, and co-author of "Backpack Safety AmericaT: A Middle Grades Curriculum to Promote Backpack Safety and Spinal Health."
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