Posted by: Bill & Gayle McCord | June 13, 2011

Sitting Pretty Is More than Aesthetics

Did your mother ever tell you to sit up straight?  Well, she was right- maintaining good posture is essential in staying healthy and also avoiding common work-related injuries.  That said, here are some tips for what “good posture” means as you work in a chair, in front of a computer.

The Importance of Staying Neutral

So often we talk about “neutral” posture as ergonomically ideal.  That’s not helpful, though, if you don’t know what “neutral” means in terms of posture.  Fair enough- let’s take some time to talk about how what it is, then we’ll give you some tips for actually achieving it.

The main idea behind staying neutral is that you keep your body in a relaxed, but intentional straight position.  Sound crazy?  Well, you need to sit up straight (versus slouching) and keep your neck, shoulders, and wrists in such a position that they are never cocked or bent awkwardly- ever.  Whether you’re typing, mousing, or reaching for something, every part of your body should be kept straight-ish.  It’s really easy to cock your wrists as you type and mouse, so be mindful of them, or you are opening yourself up to a lot of injury, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Ergonomic products for Achieving & Maintaining Neutral Posture

  • Raise your monitor.  Your screen should be at eye level so that your neck is in a neutral position and your eyes aren’t strained.
  • Keep your keyboard and mouse centered in front of you and side-by-side on the same surface.  You should never have to over-extend your reach, especially when mousing since it’s not a rare action.
  • Use a keyboard tray.  Keyboard trays attach to your desk, but right below the surface.  The advantage is that they keep the keyboard and mouse right next to each other, on a separate surface than the computer, and most importantly, at an angle that allows your arms to slope slightly downward when typing.   (which will keep you from cocking your wrists as you type).
  • Try a wrist rest.  Poorly named, a wrist rest is actually more for the palms of your hands than your wrists and is intended for rests in between periods of typing.  However, when used properly, a wrist rest is a great tool for keeping your hands and wrists in line.
  • Sit in an ergonomic chair.  There’s nothing quite like having adjustable support for your back, bottom, and arms.  Being properly supported is key in achieving and maintaining neutral posture the entire work day.  If you don’t want to buy a new chair, at least adjust the chair you do have to achieve the most comfortable posture.
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