Do you have tips on using a laptop and the best way to hold your head?
Yes I do – a lot of them! But let’s keep this simple and focus today just on the head and neck. When I talk about posture, you may already know that I’m not a huge fan of ‘best position’ or expensive ergonomic furniture. The last thing I want you to do, is to become comfortable in your office chair!
Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian Physician born in 1633, was probably best known for his book on occupational diseases (I have a leather bound collector’s addition – geek alert). Ramazzini talks about ‘Diseases of Learned Men’, which I think is brilliant! What he is referring to, are diseases that result from a sedentary, desk-based lifestyle.
Ramazzini warns us that prolonged sitting leads to: “… intense strain on the nerve fibres and the whole nervous system when one is engaged in profound study … when the organs are robbed in this way of their nutritive juice” – think slumped over and compressing the abdominal organs and diaphragm – “indigestion, severe flatulence, pallor, and emaciation of the whole body result” and we “… gradually become melancholic.” So even 400 years ago, we understood that prolonged sitting and the resulting postures of our desk-based lives, lead to an overall decline in both physical and mental health. Is it any wonder we live for Fridays?!
Forward Head Posture
When we sit for long periods of time, we take on fixed postures. Our eyes pull us closer to the screen (especially if we are over 40) and our arms and hands, busy out in front of us, begin to round our shoulders and upper back and the head travels forward – not a pretty picture. Over time, the front chest muscles get short and tight and the upper back muscles long and weak, making it very difficult to improve this unattractive posture and in time, we may start to notice declining health and well-being.
Not everyone has a standing desk and prolonged standing comes with its own warnings, so I like to recommend active sitting. When we sit, we need to learn to fidget, wiggle and stir. Ever watched a child sit at the dinner table? They have ants in their pants and that’s a good thing! Their central nerve system innately knows that movement is good.
I am a big fan of desk-based sitting exercises. You can check out a few of these exercises in the Posturecise Crash Course.
The Ergonomic 3s!
Although I don’t have an expensive office set up, I do slightly elevate my laptop using a laptop support – there are a ton of cheap options. You’ll want to elevate your laptop high enough to keep your head from travelling forward and down. Keeping the middle of the computer screen level with the eyes, is a good rule of thumb. Use a wireless keyboard and find a nice puffy bean bag wrist support (aka mouse cushion, wrist rest, wrist cushion – find on Amazon, Staples or Best Buy) and you are ready to go – happy as Larry!