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Do You Have 'Computer Back'?

By Sara Butler

Unless you live deep in the jungle and have only recently joined civilization, chances are you use computers -- a lot. Did you know many people suffer from computer-related injuries? It’s true! You may be wondering how on earth you can injure yourself sitting down, but the truth is "computer back" is a very common computer injury. Do you have it?

What is Computer Back?

The fancy name your chiropractor might use for this condition is “posterior cervical dorsal syndrome.” It’s when the curve of your upper, middle and lower back is interrupted by poor posture. If you tend to sit with rounded shoulders or with your head forward and down, then you might just be at risk for computer back if you don’t already suffer from it. It’s just the natural result of sitting in an incorrect posture for too long. It is characterized by these symptoms:

  • Excessive muscle tension – You can experience this in the chest, neck, arms, shoulders, back, hips, forearms, thighs, legs, and abdomen.
  • Headaches – Tension headaches that stem from tight muscles in your neck are common.
  • Trigger points – You may experience strains that create trigger points in your muscles.
  • Joint dysfunction – You may experience sprains frequently in the muscles of your back, neck, and even ribs.
  • Impaired diaphragm function – The muscle that helps your breath may not be able to work correctly, and this results in overuse of the muscles in your shoulders and upper ribs in order to breathe correctly, causing pain and discomfort.

What Can You Do?

Seeing your chiropractor regularly is a great first step in helping you to avoid the pitfalls of computer back. Also, it’s important to pay attention to your posture at your workstation and set it up in an ergonomically correct way in order to encourage proper posture while working.

It’s also very important to take breaks while you’re working as frequently as possible. Once an hour is acceptable, but you should aim for two to three times an hour and practice this postural relief position:

  • Sit at the edge of your work chair with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
  • Slightly turn your feet outward.
  • Tuck your chin down and back.
  • Take a breath deep into your abdomen.
  • Exhale and turn your palms out as you extend your fingers and slightly raise your sternum or breastbone.
  • Repeat a couple of times, three if you’re feeling saucy.

Doing this frequently throughout the day may help you to avoid computer back. If you have any other questions about proper posture at your computer, talk to your chiropractor at your next adjustment at The Joint.

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