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 tired eyes pull us closer to the screen, and our arms and hands, busy out in front of us, begin to round our shoulders and upper back, while our head travels forward – not a pretty sight.
Over time, the front chest muscles become short and tight, and the upper back muscles long and weak, making it very challenging to sit long and tall. In time, we may also start to notice declining health and vitality.
Further Resources: Chest Opener – Best exercise for round shoulders
Not everyone has or wants a standing desk and prolonged standing comes with its own set of problems. I prefer recommending something I call active sitting.
When we sit, we can once again learn to fidget and wiggle; much like we did when we were school aged. If you watch a child sitting down at the dinner table, it’s as if they have ants in their pants. This is a good thing!
A child’s neurology is developing and their central nerve system knows that movement is magic.
I am a big fan of desk-based sitting exercises. You can check out a few of these exercises in my online course: Sit Less Move More – Office desk exercise to improve posture.
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.
I now use a sit/stand desk. You can check out my standing tips below.
Have you tried standing for work? Hate it or love it? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.