Hunching over a computer is a leading reason why four in five women end up with crippling back pain at some point in their lives. But a few simple changes in the way you work can make your pain vanish, according to researchers at Cornell University and the Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health. Here’s what to do ASAP.
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Keep your head up.
Focus on aligning your head and neck right above your shoulders; avoid straining forward.
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Move your mouse close
Ideally, it should be placed right next to your keyboard so you don’t overreach or twist your shoulder, arm, or wrist when clicking.
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Be choosy with your chair
Pick one that allows your lower back to rest against a lumbar support. Then tilt the back of the chair so it’s very slightly reclined.
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Breathe from your belly
On each inhale, think about drawing your navel toward your spine; that engages the core muscles and supports the upper body.
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Sit within reach
Your torso should be about an arm’s length away from the monitor, which should be 2 to 3 inches above eye level.
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Plant your feet
Keep them flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart to quiet tension in your knees and ankles.
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Getting up at least once an hour—to go to the bathroom or just do some shoulder rolls—reduces pressure on spinal disks and boosts circulation. Payoff: you’ll be more limber and less stressed.
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Find the right angle
Position your knees at 90 degrees, directly over your ankles; this will keep your spine comfortably upright.
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Stretch your shoulders
Roll them back and down, and square them over your hips. Imagine that you’re balancing a plate on your head, and you don’t want it to fall off.
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Quit squinting and straining
This is especially common when you use a laptop as your primary computer—you need to lean forward to reach keys or see the screen. One way to solve the problem: attach a separate monitor and keyboard.
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Don't cross your legs
Sitting cross-legged makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared, and you risk overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, upping your risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow. So uncross and relax.
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No more phone cradling
Pinning the phone between your shoulder and ear while you multitask is an instinctive move—and it’s murder on your neck. Use a headset or speakerphone for any conversation that lasts more than five minutes.
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