The human body is a well-integrated machine. If one gear is out of alignment, the engine won’t be able to carry the body for as many miles. We hear about carpal tunnel prevention as well as preventing back pain all the time. But we rarely connect the two. Good posture is a critical element of preventing carpal tunnel symptoms, as highlighted in this New York Times blog post.
The article considers a number of elements to keeping good posture. Let’s try to go into a bit more detail.
1. Sit with your spine against the back of the chair and the shoulders relaxed:
Start by sitting all the way back in your chair so that your buttocks are up against the bottom of the back rest. Let your back lean against it so that the muscles can turn off. You may have been trained to type sitting up in a chair without leaning back against a support. This might be good posture, but it’s very tiring for your back muscles.
There’s a semi-popular movement developing called “chair yoga” that sees posture as a goal to be constantly aware of. The name suggests a better awareness of what we do in general, even when “standing, walking, reading, eating, sitting, lying, typing, and more, you should make a conscious effort, to keep your head and back straight.” More generally, chair yoga is just a seated version of the general art and can be therapeutic beyond carpal tunnel.
2. Make sure your feet are firmly against the floor.
What’s so critical about this is that it stabilizes the back. There are even exercises that reinforce these sitting positions:
Seated Water Bottle Curl. This exercise tones your biceps, forearms and wrists. Fill two water bottles and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Hold the bottles to your sides near the top of your thighs, then slowly raise the bottles until they’re shoulder high. Return to your starting position and repeat for up to 30 seconds.
3. Raise your typing materials – keyboard, monitor, even papers you might be copying – to avoid neck strain. PLUS, keep your head upright & neck flexible:
This will help with normal circulation. It also helps with the nerves going through your arms and shoulders. This is something I tried as soon as I read about it – writing this article. It’s certainly something I think about all the time: “Wouldn’t it be great if my desk were higher; my screen more level; my keyboard at an angle?”
Good posture isn’t something just for kids. It was important growing up to have it, but now that you have to sit in front a computer all day to earn a living, these points are critical to help you battle against the intertwined obstacles to muscle comfort and avoiding pain.