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Q: "I have a desk job and sit at a computer most of the day. I also have a daughter who doesn't ever seem to stop looking at her iPhone and it seems like her neck is always craned forward. I know we both need to work on posture. What would you recommend?"
A: Maintaining proper posture is one of the most important things one can do to prevent undue stress to the body. Technology and its use both socially and for work are a large cause of many of the problems I see involving poor posture. As we get tired throughout the day we tend to get dragged in towards the screen (phone or computer) resulting in a significant rounding of both the spine and shoulders. This rounded posture causes a number of the conditions we see from the neck to the hips. The first thing one needs to do is find ways to step away and take breaks periodically throughout the day (even if it’s just taking a lap around your office chair). This is harder for phone use but if possible tyry and separate the kids from their phones by setting timers or creating “phone free” hours or activities (during meals, while watching TV, during games, going for a hike, etc). Setting up your work station properly is also very important to encourage proper posture. This includes raising the monitor to eye level, keeping the keyboard at a height which maintains the elbows at a 90 degree angle as well as keeping the chair at a height that allows the knees to be bent to 90 deg. Exercises like reverse shoulder rolls and scapular retractions are easy exercises which can be done when you find yourself in a poor posture which helps to restore the body’s natural midline.
Craig Duggan, MPT ATC LAT PES is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Winston.