Proper Computer Ergonomics for a Healthy Neck & Back

By David Coletta, MPT, CMPT
david@excelptmt.com

Proper Computer Ergonomics for a Healthy Neck & Back

Using computers have become a normal part of most people’s daily lives.  For many of us, sitting at a desk top or laptop computer can last several hours every day.  Do you suffer from neck pain, upper back pain, or headaches?  Could poor posture at the computer be a contributing factor to such complaints? A 2012 study (Cho et al) found that 254 surveyed Chinese office workers, between 25 and 40 years old, working 3+ hours per day at the computer, had a 71%-76% prevalence of neck pain and a 60%-64% prevalence of upper back pain.       

 How often do we find ourselves stuck in postures such as this?  Poor positioning, most often producing a forward head, causes undue stress on the neck and upper back muscles and joints.  Over time, the soft tissues cannot bear the burden without developing tightness and inflammation.  Such complaints lead to pain and a visit to the physical therapist, massage therapist, or doctor in search of relief.

 A proper desktop set-up starts with a higher quality supportive computer chair, which securely supports the lower back lordosis, has great deal of adjustability, and comes with padded arm rests (forearm rests on padding).  A large computer screen, with the top edge placed just above eye level, is optimal.  The keyboard and mouse should be easily accessible to the hands so that the elbow can rest under the shoulder.  The ultimate goal is to have the ear, shoulder, elbow, and hip almost in a perfect vertical line.

 Posture Photo 2 3-28-2014If the top of your desk is too high, then your keyboard and mouse can be placed on an adjustable external tray that is secured underneath this surface.  Obtaining proper ergonomics can be a good deal more challenging with a laptop computer, but purchasing an external keyboard and mouse or a laptop stand can be helpful.  These and other computer ergonomic products can be found online at ergopro.com

 

If you have specific questions about how to improve your computer ergonomics, contact David Coletta, MPT, CMPT at Excel Physical Therapy, 406-556-0562 in #Bozeman, Montana.

"...Everyone is friendly and I got exactly the help I needed." --Bozeman Patient.

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