During the past few months you likely have noticed that you are spending more time on your computer, phone, and television. With the kids back in school or learning online, and with many jobs continuing to work remotely, it’s important to assess your posture and the effects that it can have on the rest of your body, especially your neck and back. When working at our desks or texting away on our phones, we all have a tendency to let the shoulders round and our heads move forward. This continues down the spine to the thoracic area where you may experience a rounded upper back and the once c-shaped low back is starting to flatten out. This all can be corrected with some simple fixes to your workspace!

Take a look around your desk or workspace surface

When examining your workstation area it is important to place the computer screen at eye level so that you avoid the tendency to drop the head and strain the neck. The keyboard and mouse should be placed easily within arm’s reach so that the elbows can remain bent at 90 degrees at the elbow with the wrists gently placed on the table, desk or even a support cushion on the mouse pad or keyboard. The wrists should be neutral and should not reach way up or down in order to type or click.  We recommend heading over to our YouTube Channel for some great exercises for hand & thumb strengthening as well. Our hand specialist, Erin Bolowsky, PT, DPT demonstrates six, no-equipment-needed exercises that you can do yourself at home in our Hand Therapy series.

Adjust your chair and how you are sitting in it

Now on to looking at the seat you are using. We all may not have access to an office chair, but there are many ways we can adapt our kitchen or dining room chairs in order to promote a nice upright posture and prevent rounding of the shoulders. When sitting in your chair it’s important that not only your back is aligned properly, but also your feet. It is important that your feet are able to touch the ground and your knees are bent at 90 degrees. With this position of your feet and legs it will help to promote better trunk posture. Moving up to the spine it is important to promote a nice curve in your lower back. In order to do so, take a large beach towel and roll it up. Take this towel roll and place it along the small of your back and adjust as needed. This will promote the natural curve of your spine and help you to really bring the shoulders back and prevent the dreaded rounded shoulders.

Now onto the toughest part, keeping those shoulders back. Using a chair with a nice high back will be one way to help this, but another important aspect is to bring your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are trying to squeeze a towel located between them. With practice and awareness, you will find that this becomes easier and easier.

While you’re typing, working, or reading away, keep these tricks in mind. Before you know it your back, shoulders, and even your neck will feel better even after working for long periods of time. Don’t forget to take some stretch breaks here and there either! Taking a walk to get some fresh air is a great way to refresh the body and mind before getting back to work.