As a freelancer, I often find myself sitting at a desk for hours and hours each day. When I started out, the result of this was chronic back problems, strained neck and tensed shoulders. All these were caused by my improper sitting posture, but since then I have made sure to do everything I can to avoid further problems of this kind.
If you work in an office, a coworking space or at home and have to sit in front of a computer for 8-10 hours every day, these 3 easy tips will help you prevent back problems in the future:
1. A Good Chair will Help Avoid Back Problems
When I started out freelancing, I used an ordinary dining chair as an office chair. Of course, this was a big mistake and my back and butt could feel it. So, once I had made enough money from writing, I went out and bought a good office chair. Thankfully, that made sitting in front of a computer much easier.
What should you look for in your desk chair? There are a couple of things that you need to pay attention to, including:
- Adjustable height
Don’t buy a chair if you can’t adjust its height. Most office chairs have those levers under the seat that you can pull to increase or decrease its height. Make sure that the chair is neither too high nor too low. Your feet should be firmly touching the floor and your knees should be at a 90 degrees angle. If you go too high or too low, you could suffer problems with your knees.
- Comfortable sitting cushion
If you’re going to sit somewhere for several hours, the least you can do is to make your buttocks as comfortable as possible. Let me tell you from experience, dining chairs are not comfortable for your buttocks. Instead, get an office chair that has a nice, cushy seat. Go to the office supply store, try out a few chairs there and pick the one that feels the most comfortable to sit on.
- Adjustable backrest
The backrest, as the name suggest, is the part of the chair where your back can lean on. In a lot of office chairs, you can adjust this back and forth, depending on your preference, but most important thing here is to make sure the backrest offers a good lower back support as this is crucial in avoiding back problems.
2. Adjust Your Monitor and Keyboard Height and Position
While a good office chair will help you with your back problems, adjusting your monitor and keyboard height and position is necessary if you want to prevent neck pain and tensed shoulders.
Remember when your mother kept telling you “sit straight and don’t slouch”? She had a very good reason, even if you didn’t realize it at the time and took the first chance to slouch. Your sitting posture is incredibly important, not for outside appearance (although it does for that as well), but for the benefit of your neck, shoulders and back.
So let’s take a quick reminder of the proper sitting position in front of a computer:
- Hips as far back in the chair as you can go.
- Feet flat on the ground (if your feet are dangling, it’s not good, if your chair is too low, it’s also not good).
- Knees parallel to your hips and at a 90 degree angle.
- Hands comfortably resting on the keyboard. Not too close and not too far. If you have adjustable armrests, I suggest playing with them a little.
- Monitor in front of you. If you need to, prop it on some books or a box. Most monitors can be lowered or elevated, so be sure to do this until its perfect for you.
- Don’t hunch or slouch your shoulders. This is especially important if you’re working on a laptop.
I know it looks like a lot to take in. But trust me, a good sitting posture will soon become like a second nature to you and it will be invaluable in preventing back problems , tensed shoulders and neck pains. But there’s also one more thing I want you to do if you use a computer a lot.
3. Get Up and Stretch Your Muscles
I intentionally left what could easily be the most important piece of advice to avoid back problems. Don’t sit in one place for too long. Whether your job requires you to work at computer, or you just using it to watch movies, browse the Internet or play games, you need to get up from it from time to time.
What I do is every 25 minutes take I a 5-minute break to get up and stretch. This is called “the Pomodoro technique” and it’s a great hack to help you increase your productivity. Also, after a long day of work, be sure to go out on some fresh air, go to the gym, or what I always do, take a long walk to stretch your leg muscles and get your mind off work.
Did you find these tips useful? What else do you do to avoid neck, shoulders and back problems? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google +.