“My chair isn’t right, that’s why my low back hurts all the time.” “My boss won’t pay for a standing desk, so I guess I’ll just have bad posture.”
While taking care of your workplace ergonomics is important, it’s not enough to prevent all neck and back pain, nor will it help you achieve better posture.
Why? While it may feel like you’re at work “all day” the reality is you do spend most of your time away from your desk, even if you’re just sleeping. How your posture is maintained during these activities can play a big part in helping you avoid spine problems, but I see that most patients are solely focused on their office’s desk.
Let’s break up your day into 3 areas; Work, Sleep, and Not Work.
Keeping it as simple as possible; think neutral angles. The fastest, easiest step to take is to raise up your monitor. I don’t agree that the top of the monitor should be at eye-level. Rather, the middle of the screen should be at eye-level.
Your head weighs 8-10 lbs and every inch your head is forward creates an additional 10 lbs of strain. It’s almost better to have your monitor too high than too low. If need be, stick a couple of books under the monitor stand and get as high as you can comfortably go.
Make sure everything is in front of you, so that you’re not twisting your head to the right or left to look at your screen. Multiple screens? swap the information that you have on your screen with other screens from time to time. Don’t keep your dominant screen in the same location (for example, if you usually have your e-mail on the right screen, move it to the left).
Best advice here? Don’t sleep on your stomach. This causes you to turn your head all night, changing your muscles. It also jams up your lower back. No good can happen to your spine from sleeping this way.
The best option is on your back, but this can prove to be a difficult transition for stomach sleepers. It can also prove challenging if you snore. Sleeping on your side is the next best option, so do that.
Best to hug a body pillow, with part of it between your knees. This will take pressure off your shoulders and your lower back.
Not Work Posture
This is the tough one for me to lay out for you, because everyone can have such varying activities that it’s tough for me to give you specifics without knowing you and what you do all day.
Most spinal issues will come from things you do repeatedly, or things you do for long periods of time. If you keep having the same problem over and over again, you just need to stay alert for the offending activity. A small change, a minor tweak, a slight adjustment can make a big difference when the action is taken often.
Most obviously is how you look at your smartphone. It’s not necessary for you to stare down at it in your lap. Lift it up, read at eye-level whenever possible. Remember, it’s the weight of your head that’s causing the issue, so try to keep your head over your spine as often as you can.
Why Aren’t Workplace Ergonomics Enough?
Because you do so much more in your day! It’s simply not enough to to “sometimes” sit at your desk correctly and neglect all the other areas of your spine.
Here’s the video I made discussing this on Facebook Live on our Facebook Page