Poor posture while working on the computer can lead to fatigue, increased muscle tension and even injury to the vertebrae over time, a study has found, PTI reports.
The seemingly harmless posture can even limit the ability to turn your head, researchers said. “When your posture is tall and erect, the muscles of your back can easily support the weight of your head and neck – as much as 12 pounds,” said Erik Peper, a professor at San Francisco State University in the US.
“But when your head juts forward at a 45 degree angle, your neck acts like a fulcrum, like a long lever lifting a heavy object,” Peper said.
“Now the muscle weight of your head and neck is the equivalent of about 45 pounds. It is not surprising people get stiff necks and shoulder and back pain,” he said.
Researchers tested the effects of head and neck position. First they asked 87 students to sit upright with their heads properly aligned on their necks and asked them to turn their heads. Then the students were asked to “scrunch” their necks and jut their heads forward. Ninety-two per cent reported being able to turn their heads much farther when not scrunching. In the second test, 125 students scrunched their necks for 30 seconds. Afterwards, 98% reported some level of pain in their head, neck or eyes.
The researchers also monitored 12 students with electromyography equipment and found that trapezius muscle tension increased in the scrunched, head forward position.
So if you suffer from headaches or neck and backaches from computer work, check your posture and make sure your head is aligned on top of your neck, as if held by an invisible thread from the ceiling. “You can do something about this poor posture very quickly,” said Peper. To increase body awareness, Peper advised purposefully replicating the head-forward/neck scrunched position.
“You can exaggerate the position and experience the symptoms. Then when you find yourself doing it, you can become aware and stop,” he said.
Other solutions he offers include increasing the font on your computer screen, wearing computer reading glasses or placing your computer on a stand at eye level, all to make the screen easier to read without strain.