Computer Posture: avoiding headaches and neck pain

School's back and we're returning to long hours either studying or at the office. For many of us, work includes a desk and computer. This sometimes means neck pain and headaches, both of which can be avoided. There are some relatively simple ways to reduce computer-related headaches and make your computer desk a more comfortable place to be.

Chair set-up is important. You should be able to sit on your chair with your back against the rest and your knees no higher than your hips. Feet should be flat on the floor and if you are shorter, use a lift so they don't dangle. An arm-rest is ideal to keep the elbows at 90 degrees and to support your shoulders (reduce tension) as well as your wrists (straight is best). Some people like a lumbar cushion added to their chair to help maintain the proper curve of their low back and to make proper posture easier.

Where you position the monitor is very important to keeping your neck and head pain-free. Most people have their monitor too low, and are looking down for the majority of the day. As the above diagram points out, the top of the monitor should be in line with your eyes or even a couple inches above when your are looking straight ahead. The monitor and keyboard should be close to you to avoid forward slouching. Laptop users beware: the screen is usually sitting very low when working and over time this creates poor posture and often headaches. For long periods of use make sure you are set up at a table that allows you to see the screen without slouching, and consider angling the screen upwards.

If you have neck pain or headaches that come on at the end of a work day, or can be reduced by movement or changing position, your posture may be affecting your health. Consider adjusting your work space; you can also consult your Chiropractor for postural recommendations, exercises, or treatment if necessary.

Taia Spencer-Yap