Computer Users Alert!

Does your neck get tensed? Does your back hurt when you work at your computer? Do you get eye strain or repetitive strain injuries? Working at the computer and sitting all day long is demanding and challenging, that’s for sure. But it is not the computer work itself that creates discomfort and pain in the body, it is HOW we work and organize ourselves at the computer that matters.

 

Learning the principles of the Alexander Technique has been helpful for many computer users. The Alexander Technique is an effective way to work at your desk with better alignment, to maintain a sense of balance and ease while working and to enhance your thinking and your overall productivity. Here you find tips and instructions for a better work day:

 

First, have a look at your desk and the ergonomic set-up. Take some time to reorganize your work station. It is time well spent as you will experience more ease and clearer thinking while working at your desk. Make sure you are organizing your desk in such a way that it best serves you and your needs. Make yourself be the most important factor in the ergonomic set-up!

 

  • Sit upright on your chair and put your feet flat on the floor (If you are short, put them on a foot rest.) If the seat surface slants backwards, use a wedge.
  • Make sure the chair has the right height, so your legs fit easily underneath the desk while your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees might be slight below hip level.
  • Orient your chair towards your computer on your desk so that your forearms are horizontal to the desk surface or slanted. In this way, your wrists are slightly below your elbows.
  • If your main computer is a lap top and you spend many hours a day on the computer, it is worthwhile investing in an external keyboard or monitor.
  • Position the top of the screen at your eye level and 18 – 28 inches away from your eyes, close enough that you don’t have to lean forward to read properly.
  • Arrange the mouse pad at the same level as the keyboard and within easy reach.
  • If you have wrist pain, it may well worth the few hours it takes to become accustomed to an ergonomic keyboard. (Ergonomic keyboards allow the wrists to be longer, so the forearm and hand are more in continuous line.)

 

Allow the following directions to guide you towards more ease while sitting at the computer. Take a few minutes, before you start working and stop your work frequently to come back to the directions. (Some of my students find it helpful to set an alarm that goes off every 20 min. – as a reminder!) Working with these directions will prevent you from harmful habits such as slouching, crossing your legs, putting your head close to the screen or leaning to one side. Don’t “do” the directions; trust that the words of these directions will affect your body in a way that the quality of your posture and movements will improve.

 

  • Sense the bottoms of your feet on the floor. Allow the feet to spread out and let the weight of your legs travel down the legs, through the feet into the floor.
  • Notice your sit bones and let the chair support your body weight through your sit bones on the chair.
  • Notice your legs releasing as you let the chair take your body weight.
  • Rock your whole torso forward and back several times, then find a balance so you can sit without tension in your hip joints.
  • Think up along the spine and let your head balance on the spine.
  • Let the muscles of your neck be soft and open and notice the space above your head.
  • Play with “yes” and “no” movements of your head, slightly moving your head allowing for more freedom in the neck.
  • Be aware of the space behind you. Allow your back to be long and wide.
  • Notice the width of your shoulders and the space between the upper arms and the side of your rib cage.
  • Let your arms be long and go away from the back. Easy in the joints.
  • Notice your breathing and the movement of your ribs and abdomen as you inhale and exhale.
  • Be aware of your whole body, from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head. Find ease in your sitting as you calmly breathe in and out.
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