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One topic I always cover when I’m seeing a new patient is how they have their workstation and desk set up ergonomically. Proper ergonomics encourages good posture and minimizes stress to both the upper and lower back and neck and shoulders. Tweaking things here and there can make a big difference for your spine when utilizing a computer 8-10 hours a day.

Whether you are using a desktop or laptop or a combination of both will dictate how to organize your workstation. I always recommend a desktop over a laptop due to the fact that laptops require you to look down and force your neck and head in a prolonged forced flexed position. The reality for a lot of people though is that you may only have a laptop at your disposal for a variety of reasons. If you are able to attach a monitor to your laptop that is a great option as you are able to keep your eyes straight ahead and your head in a neutral position, removing the need to flex forward. Having your monitor at eye level, your head facing forward and your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle is ideal for minimizing head and upper back stress. Also, utilizing an ergonomic keyboard and mouse also minimize the stress and tension on your shoulder, arm and wrist.

Chairs are extremely important as well. Using a chair that has a lumbar support built in, sitting all the way back in the chair and adjusting the chair height so you are at eye level with the computer is also ideal. I often have patients tell me they sit on their couch with a laptop for hours at a time leaning forward on their elbows, or they sit on the edge of their chair leaning forward at their desk or sit at their countertop on a backless stool. Over time, these repetitive stressors cause a lot of pain and dysfunction to the spine and adjacent musculature.

If you have the space and financial ability for your home office to create an environment that is both comfortable and ergonomic for your body, you will save yourself a lot of stress and discomfort and minimize potential long-term spinal degeneration. Some employers will pay for ergonomic home office equipment.

Also, a lot of businesses will bring in ergonomic experts to create a work station that is ideal for their employees. If your employer has not done this, I would approach them as this will benefit all employees and make for a better work environment. Also, having a massage therapist come to the office 1-2x/month is also something that is beneficial on many levels for work production and pain and stress relief.

Many patients use standup desks, and this is something that helps reduce lower back pain and discomfort. I recommend using a gel mat or wearing comfortable and supportive shoes to minimize stress on the feet, ankles, knees and hips while standing.

Proper use of cell phones and tablets is more of a conscious challenge for maintaining proper posture and ergonomics. There are posture correctors that can be worn around the shoulders or wireless units on your back that remind you to sit up and prevent you from slouching. You can also set a timer on your phone to remind you to pay attention to your posture.

As we are so dependent upon computers in all areas of our lives, it is essential that you use proper ergonomics to prevent spinal stress, muscle tension and bad posture. It is a financial investment for some of these products but in the long run they pay for themselves in keeping your back healthy and minimizing stress. Strengthening your paraspinal muscles, getting regular chiropractic adjustments and using good posture habits will go a long way to prevent spinal dysfunction and degenerative arthritis over the long term from repetitive computer use.


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