Musculoskeletal disorders or repetitive strain injuries are a real pain. But much of it can be avoided or alleviated simply by maintaining good posture. As a rule, you should concentrate on keeping your weight off your arms when you work at the computer. For example, don’t lean on your arms or wrists and don’t reach with your hands. Instead, position your arms by using your shoulder and scapular muscles (back and shoulder blade muscles). Also, try to keep your back always in contact with your chair to prevent slouching. Here are exercises and stretches that help keep you sitting up straight:
- Place your right hand over your left collarbone. You can use your left hand to support your right as you gently tug downward on the skin and underlying tissue, while slowly stretching your head back and away from your hands. You should feel a stretch in the front of your neck. Hold for one to two deep breaths and gently release. Repeat on the opposite side.
- When you’re not sitting straight, you can put an enormous strain on your neck muscles. Stretch those muscles by pulling your head upward, then bringing your chin back to create a double chin. Hold for one to two deep breaths and repeat three to five times.
- The scapulae (or shoulder blades) tend to fall out to the side and forward due to weakness in the mid back and too much tension in the upper back. Fight the tendency to let them to rise up toward your ears; this engages the generally stronger upper back muscles and will only reinforce bad habits. To strengthen the mid back muscles, place your hands on your stomach and gently tuck your scapulae in and down. Hold for one to two deep breaths and repeat three to five times.
- Stand in a doorway with your hands comfortably on either side of the door jamb. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Keeping knees slightly bent, maintain a slight chin and shoulder blade tuck. Take a small step and go chest first through the doorway. You should feel a stretch across your chest muscles. Do not let your shoulders creep up toward your ears or let your elbows point back behind you. Hold for one to two deep breaths and repeat.