These days more and more of us are working all day at computers – sitting in the same position 9-5 and not really getting much chance to move around and stretch during that time. Of course that’s not terribly good for you and especially if you are hunched over your computer the whole time like Quasimodo. In fact, back problems are becoming a more and more common health complaint and office work is quite likely one of the main culprits.
But working at a computer does not necessarily mean you need to say goodbye to your healthy back. There are actually many ways you can reduce the amount of discomfort that comes from working at a computer, and this can help you to be more comfortable in the short term and avoid injuries in the long term.
The Set Up
Of course the first thing that’s going to have a big impact on your comfort and your back health while you work is the way you set up your computer and desk. Specifically it’s important to make sure that you are at the right distance and right height in relation to your monitor, keyboard and desk – which is something that can cause a lot of problems.
The best way to do this right away is to make sure you have an adjustable chair. This way you will be able to ensure that you are always at just the right height, no matter where your monitor is in relation to you. Then you should set the seat so that your screen is at head height – you should be able to look directly forward and comfortably see the screen rather than having to crane your head up or look downwards to read the monitor.
Also important is to make sure that your back is straight and that you are completely upright. You mustn’t be hunched over at all as you write. To encourage this, you should make sure that the back of your seat is curved to match the curvature of your spine, and you should pull your keyboard forward towards the edge of the desk so that you aren’t sprawling yourself out across the table to reach it. If you keep your keyboard forward, it will automatically force you to push your back up straight.
You can also force yourself to sit more upright by tucking your feet under the chair that you’re sitting on. This again will force you to sit with your back straighter and can be a good way to remind yourself to use the correct posture.
But what’s most important of all is simply that you move around. That means that you should sometimes be working while you’re at the desk, but also sometimes be working on the sofa or even while standing up.
No matter how good your set-up is, or how much you pay attention to your posture, you are always going to find that it’s painful to stay sitting in the same position for hours on end. Thus you should make sure that you occasionally move – even if that means just standing up for a while and putting your keyboard up on something high like a kitchen counter.
To make this easier it’s a good idea to work with some of the more portable and versatile technology that we’re seeing these days. This includes tablet computers like the Surface Pro, which can be used as a laptop or as a tablet. Combine this with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you can work standing up, sitting down or anywhere in between. Give yourself somewhere to sit other than your desk when you start getting uncomfortable, and you’ll find that you never get the kind of crippling pain that we sometimes associate with computer work.