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Counteract computer work

I picked a nice image for you today. This is the place where you will be doing most of your work soon if you don’t counteract. We don’t want that, do we? πŸ˜‚

In this post we talk about why you are risking your health with daily computer work and what to do to prevent or counteract it.

Before we start, some words of caution again…

I’m no expert, I have no medical degree. This is from my own experience. If you are having serious issues, go see a doctor.

Me, myself and my computers…

I have computers since the late 80s. First mostly gaming, soon after, more and more serious programming. Hours and whole nights were spent in front of the PC. While in my teens and in my 20s I never really had any issues from sitting all day long.

This changed in my mid 30s. Started with back and neck pain. Pain in the right shoulder. Pain in the lower back. Stiffness. Someimes headache. And neck pain more and more often. At some point I wasn’t able to work sit there for longer than half an hour. Working on a laptop was the worst.

During my ‘career’ I mostly used desktops or laptops in a dock. I don’t see the point in buying a PC anymore, unless you are a gamer or are really cheap on budged. You can work everywhere, take it on vacation. I guess most people own a laptop nowadays and from what I can see, most are also working full time on that machine.

That’s ergonomic hell.

You can’t sit there all day long in a crunched position and after that you pick up your phone and continue.

Let me quickly (and amateurishly) explain you what happens with your body when you are doing that.

Sitting for long times is bad. It’s bad for your cardiovascular system and puts extraordinary weight on certain joints and your spine.

What makes this even worse is the position in which we are mostly sitting and working.


Your upper back is crunched forward and minimizes the space for your lungs, stomach and heart.

Your arms and shoulders are pushed forward due to using the keyboard and the mouse. This decreases the available space for your lungs and heart even more.

Your head is pushed forward, putting extraordinary pressure on your spine on the neck and the muscles there.

This posture is shortening and tightening the muscles in the breast and pelvis. When you stand up again those tightened muscles literally push your down and forward. That’s why many people have their pelvis back and a lordosis
By using your mouse and your keyboard your hands and wrists are used in an non proper way which also puts extraordinary pressure on joints, muscles and tendons.

The less you move, the more you sit in front of your computer, the more permanent those changes become.


Some symtoms are:

  • Pain in the breast,
  • neck pain
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • shoulder pain
  • upper and lower back pain
  • heart problems like cardiac arrhythmia
  • pain in the lower arm and wrist
  • strange feelings and pain in the fingers

Long list, eh? πŸ˜‚

Those are the symptoms you actually feel. What it also does is way more deadly. Not only sitting but the overall bad posture is really bad for your cardiovascular system. You can even get a stroke from bad posture. So it’s high time to counteract that.

How to counteract

Before I list some simple exercises we first talk about how to get your equipment right.

Your equipment

First of all, by all means, stop working on a laptop for hours. That habbit will be one of the nails in your coffin. Get a dock, a monitor, an external keyboard and mouse. And…

Get a table which is adjustable in height. You should work while standing for some time of the day. That’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. There’s nothing worse than waking up, and 5 minutes later sitting down in front of your PC again. No wonder you’re feeling like garbage.

Don’t get a cheap table. The cheaper ones don’t have a sensor that detects when something is on the way while going up or down. Not so good for you when you hand is between your chair and your table either πŸ˜‚


Throw away those regular mouses, also this flat crap from Apple. Looks nice, but it’s another nail in your coffin.

I can recommend Logitech MX Vertical. It supports a natural position of your hand and wrist. You will feel the different the second you start using it.


Get a good chair. An office chair. Not some boss chair or something you had laying around in the kitchen. Man, you sit there for the bigger part of your day and it’s where you make your money. Take some money and buy something real. Really. Don’t be cheap. It will pay off big time.


Lets start with the exercises. Do them often, at least twice a day. It won’t help much of you do them for 10 minutes and then sit for 10 hours. Guess which ‘force’ will be stronger then. If you do them regularly you will feel a bettering quickly.

Clasped hand behind back

No idea how this stretch is named, I’ve just taken it from the video =). This helps stretching the muscles of your breast and especially your shoulders, which are pushed forward due to all the keyboard and mouse work. Remember? πŸ˜‚

You can do those all day long, everytime you go get a coffee, do it. Get up from the chair, do it. Just a few seconds a few times.


I already had a tweet about those. A classic Yoga pose. I do them every morning and before I go to bed. Makes your spine mobile again and removes all the stiffness in the back. Same here, get up from your chair, just do 5-10 quick ones.

Thread the Needle

Talked about that one in a tweet too. This one is really a game changer. You are so stiff in your back between your shoulders, it’s unbelieveable. I do them without the hand up, but it’s a good variation you could try too.

90/90 Hip Rotation

Didn’t find a better video, so it starts after 2 minutes πŸ˜‚.

This is a very simple stretch everyone can do, no matter how stiff.

I do those also every morning and before going to bed. The other stretches in that video are also very good, even if most are for more advanced people who already have some flexibility. This stretch counteracts a bit the stiffness in your hips due to all the long hours of sitting.

Stretch legs front

Not much to say here. I think everybody knows this stretch. Pay attention to your knee. It’s better to push your pelvis forward to get the stretch than to pull your knee to your back. Also be careful if you have previous knee injuries.

Neck stretches

I want to link Dan Go’s fabulous neck stretching thread here. Easy to do. Do them every morning and every evening and inbetween. Your neck will thank you.

My recommendation would be to do 5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes before going to bed. As a start. You might want to do longer stretches later on.

And remember: Every body is different. Not every stretch will feel good for you. Build your own ‘workout’.

And while it is true that every body is different, it’s also true that your body is no exception. You aren’t able to handle all the sitting and computer work. It will kill you. Your body is no exception. You know where you end up if you don’t counteract… πŸ˜‚

Good luck and stay healthy.

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