Happy New Year! As we step into 2024, now is the perfect time to examine some of our daily habits and set new health goals. And if you work from home or spend any significant time at a computer, then rethinking your posture is the ideal starting point.
In fact, how is your posture right now? Are you reading this post on your phone, with your gaze downward and shoulders hunched? Are you reading it on your computer, spine curved forward and slouched, arms unsupported and gaze lowered down to your laptop screen? Are you sitting on your couch, feet stretched out before you and laptop, well, in your lap? Are you feeling strain in your neck, shoulders, and/or back?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re not alone. All of these postures are super common, and it's not your fault. Because phones and laptops, by design, encourage poor posture which is not great for your spine and muscles. But there are some simple steps you can take to adjust for these design flaws, and in the process, significantly lessen the strain to your neck and back.
5 Essential Tips to Transform Your Workspace into a Posture-Friendly Zone
(Your neck and back will thank you :)
👉 Lumbar Support: Your Key To Good Posture and Pelvic Position
Good posture starts with your pelvis. (Hello... I'm a pelvic floor PT... you knew I'd start here 😂) If you don't have good lumbar support, you won't have good pelvic support. You'll slouch and put your pelvis in a terrible position. Slouching increases pressure on the pelvic floor and tailbone, which can lead to discomfort and dysfunction.
To avoid this, you need good lumbar support. Sit with your buttocks all the way at the back of your chair, to allow the back rest to better support the small inward curve of your low back. If your chair lacks a good lumbar support, you can use a rolled up a towel and place it in the small of your back, or purchase a cushion designed specifically for this.
👉 Armrest Support: Say Goodbye to Shoulder Strain
The average adult arm can weigh anywhere from 7-12 pounds; if left dangling and unsupported, the weight of your arms can cause quite a bit of chronic strain to your neck and shoulder muscles, giving you a sore neck at the end of the work day.
To lessen that load, it’s crucial that you use a chair with armrests. Adjust them high enough to support your forearms while you work. I know it might be a hassle and an extra investment to get a chair with adjustable armrests, but your shoulders and neck will thank you!
👉 Forearm and Wrist Support: for Happy Typing
Show some love to your forearms and wrists. Your keyboard, as well as your mouse, should be at a height and position that allows your elbows to be bent about 90 degrees and close to your sides. Ideally, your forearms are supported by your chair's adjustable armrests.
While typing, have your wrists in a neutral position or slightly bent back; a pad can help to cushion the bony prominences on the outside of your wrists when you're paused from typing.
👉 Monitor Height: Keep Your Gaze Straight Ahead
Avoid 'laptop neck' by setting your monitor at eye level; you can do this by connecting your laptop to an external monitor which can be adjusted high enough to be even with your gaze while sitting in good posture.
If you’re stuck using a laptop, then be sure to invest in an external keyboard, so you can raise the laptop monitor to eye level using a computer stand or even a stack of books. A little elevation can go a long way in reducing neck and shoulder strain.
👉 Desk Height: Perfect Angles for Happy Hips
Adjust your chair height until your hips reach a comfy 90 degree angle. This will lessen strain to your lower back and help to keep your spine aligned, as well as minimize slouching.
If you’re on the shorter side, you might need a footrest or step stool to achieve this. If very tall, you may need a higher desk, with a chair adjustable in height.
How is Your Workstation?
Small changes to your workspace like these can lead to big improvements in your health and well-being. If you've been ignoring your posture or putting off upgrading your workstation, now's the perfect time to take action! Use the tips above to check your set-up today, so you can say no to the aches and pains that sneak up after hours of hunching over your computer.
Need Help to Transform Your Workspace? Get a Complimentary Virtual Workstation Screening!
Want an expert to look at your workstation? To help you get off to a great start for 2024, I'm excited to offer you a free virtual Workstation Screening for the month of January! This limited time offer is your chance to get personalized advice on how to set up your workspace for maximum comfort, health, and productivity (no strings attached ✂️)
But don't delay—after January 31st, the price of this new service increases to $97.
Whether you're dealing with nagging back pain, shoulder tension, or just want to ensure you're doing the best for your body, this Screening is a game-changer. I'll assess your current setup virtually and provide tailored recommendations to improve your ergonomic environment.
Sign up now and take the first step towards a workspace that supports and enhances your posture, for your most comfortable year yet at work.
Free through January 31, 2024
(A $97 value)
🥳 Have a very Happy, Healthy 2024 & Happy Sitting!
About the Author:
Angela is the owner of My Pelvic Therapy, PLLC and a licensed physical therapist. Prior to starting her telehealth private practice, she worked as a senior physical therapist for 17 years at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, specializing in helping both women and men overcome their pelvic floor challenges. She received her physical therapy degree from Duke University, biology degree from University of Illinois, and is a lifelong learner of all things PT.