February 2023 Newsletter

If you sit for many hours a day, on the computer or laptop, this is for you.

In last month’s newsletter we talked about gravity. Here I will explain how you can counteract the effects of gravity on the muscular system while sitting at the computer, and almost anywhere you sit. Gravity sucks, but it’s a fact of life on earth.

Are you tired of aches and pains in your neck, upper, mid and lower back, hip, headache, at the end of each workday? You can reduce that if you know how to outsmart gravity!

Let’s look at the physics involved. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When you are seated with your knees pulled up, your spine will bend down to meet them. We have this innate mechanism in our body called the “righting reflex”. When your back is bent over because your knees are pulled up you are looking down towards the floor. The “righting reflex” in the eyes will kick in and you will automatically raise your head to level the eyes to look at the computer screen. When the knees are in a lower position, towards the floor, the spine will automatically straighten. The moment the spine is straightened, it will cause your shoulders and head to pull up and back. Try it yourself right now.

When you sit slouched, towards the screen this causes your head to jut forward about one inch in front of your shoulders. In this position, your neck muscles will have to work 3 times harder to support the weight of the head. If the weight of the head is about 15 pounds, now it will weigh 45 pounds.

Your neck muscles will tire quickly and may become spastic which may cause your blood circulation to slow. This in effect reduces the oxygenation to the muscles and increases lactic acid, which is usually the cause of muscle pain and discomfort.

When you sit up straight with at least on knee below your hip height, it will make it much easier for the muscles of the spine to fight gravity and to reduce the pain. You may alternate lowering one knee at a time. Adjust your screen to be at your eye level, rather than pushing your head forward to adjust your eyes to the screen.

The way to find this position is to sit right on the edge of the chair and to bend one knee and to tuck it underneath your chair. (You may support your bottom with a soft pillow if needed to prevent sliding).

It will take a bit of time and practice to retrain your nervous system to sit like that but the effort is worth it. The effect is cumulative. After all, you’re going to sit by the computer for many years to come.

The correct way to sit by the computer has nothing to do with the chair but with your ability to fight gravity with the correct body posture. You will be able to utilize this seated position every place you sit.

For more information, check out my other articles on posture, pain, and biomechanics, as well as treatment areas for neuromuscular relief.

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