I like to simplify good computer desk posture into 4 separate actions:
- Sitting in a desk chair
- Looking at a monitor
- Typing on a keyboard
- Using a mouse
We can’t just keep using the huge umbrella term of “bad posture” when we describe our pain from sitting at a computer desk. There are so many variables and so many things to correct. We need to dissect it into those 4 smaller actions so it can be understood more easily.
I’ll get into all 4 of them in the near future, but today I want to keep it simple and focus on the single most important element of good computer desk posture.
I’m intentionally not showing any complete pictures of good computer desk posture in today’s article. The reason for that is I’d like readers not to get overwhelmed. Let’s look at the starting point today. Practice that. Then, we’ll just take it one step at a time. Today’s article will be categorized under the first action of “sitting in a desk chair.”
We’ve been sitting with bad posture at computer desks for 10, 20, even 30 years for some of us. It’s not going to get fixed overnight. Also, we’re going to be sitting at computer desks for a long time to come. Today, let’s just focus on the most basic, most important element.
Good Computer Desk Posture: What’s the most important element?
The most important thing is to “keep the spine stacked.” You want to keep the standard curve in your spine whenever you are in any position for a prolonged period of time. When looking at a side view angle from the person’s right side, this standard curve looks like a very slight “S”.
The picture below shows a healthy “S” curve of the spine, with all of the vertebrae “stacked” correctly on top of each other.
Slouching forward is the most common, most destructive bad habit when sitting at a desk. Once a person slouches forward, all of the vertebrae are no longer stacked on top of each other. This sets off a chain reaction of many other problems (hips overextend, spine curves incorrectly, head strains the neck, shoulders internally rotate, etc). We won’t get into all that today. Again, we just want to keep it simple today and not overwhelm.
The main thing to understand is when you “sit up straight,” the spine isn’t technically straight. It’s curved (like a very slight “S”) while the spine is still “stacked” at the same time.
I know what you’re thinking, “It’s not that simple.” I know, I know. Don’t sweat it. I’ve drafted a sweet and easy Computer Posture Checklist that covers all the bases for you.
There are plenty of variables involved in order to keep your spine properly stacked. Height of desk, height of chair, depth of chair, etc, etc. A functional ergonomic desk set-up is unique to just about all of us. Just keep experimenting. Keep adjusting until you find that sweet spot where your spine is correctly stacked in an S curve.