Sitting in one position for long hours can wreak havoc on your posture.
And not just at your computer, but even away from it on your tablet or phone.
A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Microsoft showed that holding a tablet too low in your lap can force the muscles and bones in the neck into an unnatural posture, which may strain or aggravate other muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs.
Over time, poor posture also chips away at the range of motion in your joints.
"Usually we tell people they should change their position every 15 minutes," says Dr. Jack Dennerlein, principal investigator of the tablet study and an adjunct professor of ergonomics and safety at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Just change your hands, shift your weight. Stand up or sit down."
Better ergonomics also can help combat these problems. Harvard Medical School offers the following tips.
If you use a laptop or desktop computer:
• Choose a chair with good lumbar support, or place a pillow against the small of your back.
• Position the top of your monitor so it's just below eye level.
• Sit up straight with your head level, not bent forward.
• Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body.
• Keep hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel to the floor.
If you use a handheld phone:
• Avoid propping the phone between your head and shoulder.
• Consider investing in a comfortable, hands-free headset. Depending on your needs, you can choose one designed for use with cordless phones, landlines, or computers.
If you use an e-reader or tablet:
• Buy a case that allows you to prop the device at a comfortable viewing angle, one that doesn't require you to bend your neck much.