ergonomics

Episode 48: Improving my PC Posture


A chiropractor once joked with me about how we’ve DE-evolved. If we started out hunched over as apes, then eventually stood up straight like men, we’ve gone back to hunching over like apes again. Blame Bill Gates or Steve Jobs; pick your poison.

I came into work the other morning, and sat down at my desk. Oh super, I thought, another day of typing, not answering the phone (since it doesn’t ring), and feeling exhausted by 2:00 p.m. The exhaustion, is brought on by my posture, not so much by the work. When I first accepted my job, part of my negotiations included a very nice, ergonomic chair. They said yes, because they knew my lower back is past its prime and would complain constantly otherwise. Poor lower back. It needs a cane.

Since then, my mid and upper-backs have been complaining. My lower back would probably like to tell them to shush up already because they don’t have any herniations to complain about. But, they’re still fussy and they get louder and whine more as the day progresses.

So I started stretching. Turns out, there are plenty of ways to help my back evolve back to that of a man and leave my ape ways behind.

  1. Switch up the mouse every so often. I know, if the mouse is on the left-side, it seems awkward or we feel the need to make fun of the south paws. Don’t. It’s actually good to change that up so you’re not always just reaching for the clicker with your right hand. Also, it’s good brain stimulation to have to click with your middle finger.
  2. Put your keyboard on your lap. This, however, is more difficult than it sounds unless you have a wireless keyboard. I still struggle with getting the wire to allow me to pull my keyboard down to my lap to type and then allow me to set the thing back on the desk when it’s time for a bathroom break.
  3. Every time I send an email, I drop my shoulders. Throughout the day, I have a tendency to hunch my shoulders up. This happens every time I look at the hours remaining on one CERTAIN project where I’m not the biggest fan of one of the coworkers involved. Turns out, this is how I handle stress so I’m trying to help myself relieve it by rolling my shoulders back and down every time I hit SEND.
  4. I stretch on the roller. We have a gym onsite here at work and one of the nice quirks is that it’s stocked with foam rollers. So on particularly bad days, I’ll take a 15-minute break to go and lie down on one of those, with the roller running the length of my spine, and make snow angels in the carpet. Is nice.
  5. I raised my monitors. I don’t want to hurt my neck by looking down at an angle to my monitors so I found a couple of phonebooks (so high tech, right?) and lifted both of those bad boys up to a nice height. Feels better.
  6. I stretch against the wall. Another stretch that really helps me (because my mid back is über tight) is to lean up against the wall, knees bent so my entire spine is against the wall, then put my shoulders and elbows against the wall so I look like I’m being held up by a bank robber. I then slowly raise my arms until they touch over my head without letting my shoulders, elbows or wrists come off of the wall. Okay. I totally lied right there. Most people can do that just fine. I, however, can only move my arms up a few inches. It’s sad, but I have really high hopes for one day touching my hands together. One day.

Also, there’s some good stretches here: http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/01/improve-your-hunched-over-pc-posture.html