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Dealing with Posture Problems? 125

WebfishUK asks: "Musculo-skeletal problems (such as back pain) affect most computer users sooner or later. Like others I spend many hours sat in front of a computer and wonder what the long-term health implications will be. I recently came across a website for an application called Posture Minder which apparently runs in the background and uses your web-cam to monitor how you are sitting and warn you about bad posture habits. It sounds like a neat idea (prevention being the best cure and all that), although the website doesn't have a download. Do Slashdot readers have other devices or any habits that they have adopted to mitigate the health risks of spending a lot of time in front of a computer?"
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Dealing with Posture Problems?

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  • Litterally. Isn't that reminder enough?
    • I made a new years resolution to improve my posture. I used the following techniques in combination:

      1) Handstands. Lots and lots of handstands or faulty attempts thereof. Builds all the core trunk muscles, particularly the back muscles which naturally pulls your shoulders back.

      2) Bridging. Balance yourself on your feet and the back of your head and hold a bridge with your back as straight and low to the ground as you can for as long as you can every day. Builds the muscles along the back of the neck, n
  • Much simpler... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @06:39PM (#16121931) Journal

    I dumped my 18-year-old chair (one of the wheels is broken anyway) in favour of a pilates ball.

    It's way more fun and forces you to keep your back straight.

    And you can bounce on it while waiting for something slow to complete.

    Good for sex, too; my gf says it feels like floating.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm gonna have to call BS on that. Everyone knows /.'ers don't have girlfriends!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's way more fun and forces you to keep your back straight.

      This is a myth. It is perfectly possible to sit on one of these balls with terrible posture. We have plenty of them at work, and I don't sit any straighter on them than I do on a regular chair.
    • I used to use one of those pilates balls and I found that it didn't get my back straight anymore than if I had gotten a very good chair. My natural comfort position on that ball was to sit back a little further than on center top and then I would keep on slouching my way to bad posture. In the end, I gave it up, got a very good chair, and just forced myself to sit up straight.
      • by cp.tar ( 871488 )
        I used to use one of those pilates balls and I found that it didn't get my back straight anymore than if I had gotten a very good chair.

        Oh, I'm sure a really good chair is much better.

        But I can't afford a really good chair, but I can afford a pilates ball.

      • by nwbvt ( 768631 )
        I am not a physical therapist, but I believe the point of them is that they exercise your core muscles by forcing you to keep your balance while you sit (even if you think you are sitting still, your muscles will still be subconsiously stabilizing you), not just to force you to sit up straight. Then with those muscles strengthened, it will be easier to keep good posture.
    • Informative? Slashdot reviewer. This is funny, not informative. Read the whole comment before rating it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ignavus ( 213578 )
      Your gf has sex with your pilates ball?

      Kinky. But if you spend all your time posting on /., what else is she supposed to do?
    • by ZiggyM ( 238243 )
      I use one too. Its called "active seating" because you use your muscles to keep your balance, (after a while it becomes automatic) this gives them a workout and makes the area stronger, thus making it easier to keep a good posture. One drawback, though: at least for the pilates ball I use, which I purchased at whole foods, after a while the ball gives in to your weight and becomes more bouncy. You can pump more air on it but it becomes larger so eventually you need to buy a new one and they are not cheap, l
      • Get a better ball. *giggle* Go to almost any physical therapy clinic and get your pilates ball there. It will cost you a bit more but they are much better made and more durable than the cheap thing from the grocery store, Target, etc. That it is, if you simply must have the Pilates ball.

        My solution - it's really simple and best of all, it's free. It's called getting your fat a$$ up and going for a walk. Get a good chair or ball or what ever makes you happy. Be sure to set your desk up properly. Most comp
    • And you can bounce on it while waiting for something slow to complete.

      Only if you make the boing, boing noise while you're doing it.

      Good for sex, too; my gf says it feels like floating.

      Make sure you know the rated limit for your pilates ball. Depending on the ball and the people, you could be in for a surprise if you suddenly found yourself crashing to the floor in mid-thrust. :-P

      Once you start hitting 300+ lbs of combined weight, you need to be aware of these things. =)


  • ... when people were "expected" to be able to bring a dog to the office. You could get up and walk the dog on a regular basis, thus ensuring both a break from the keyboard (and a reduced threat of RSI to the wrists) and a few minutes stretching your legs.

    That's one thing I hate about changing jobs ... it takes a while to "break in" the new employer to the idea that bringing a dog to the office isn't some sort of "radical" thing, but tht it will improve health and productivity.

    • by Dogun ( 7502 )
      Someone I know has a service dog and her employer is not allowing the dog at work, despite the fact that it is, as best I can tell, properly trained and unresponsive while wearing it's harness, sitting or lying down until it's needed or needs to go outside to do its business. Even people with a good reason to bring an animal into the work, some employers are being unreasonable on this subject.
      • by kwark ( 512736 )
        Please think about the other employees, some might be allergic for $PET.

        (plus dogs smell terrible when wet, the most owners do not notice this themselves)
        • by Dogun ( 7502 )
          I'm not saying I support every random person bringing an animal into the work-place, but I don't think a service dog is an unreasonable exception, whether it is paired with a person who has a condition justifying its presence or a if it is being actively trained as a service dog and behaves in an acceptible manner while wearing the harness.

          It's not like these dogs are running around and depositing fur everywhere, they really do pretty much just sit there while the harness is on.
          • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
            It's not like these dogs are running around and depositing fur everywhere, they really do pretty much just sit there while the harness is on.

            I can understand your perception since I've never had any allergies. But I am married to someone with pretty severe allergies and asthma and I can honestly tell you that it doesn't matter if the animal is sitting still, locked in a room separated from the one we're in, or even just an occasional visitor the area: the allergens are still there and can suprisingly quickl
      • Isn't there some sort of law where you are? I know that where I am, there is, but I feel uncomfortable pushing things the first few months.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        the ones who are unreasonable with helper dogs are brakeing the law and they can't fire you for trying to tell them about that.
        • by Dogun ( 7502 )
          Of course, even the potential threat of termination and suspension of health benefits is more than enough to scare the living hell out of people. This stuff really does need to be spelled out in unambiguous terms in employee handbooks.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        If you are in the US that is illegal under the AWDA (amer disablities). If she has that dog to aid her with a disability she can get a court order to allow her or sue the hell out of the company.
    • by bunions ( 970377 )
      ugh. Dogs at work. I am just not in favor of it, unless the dog is uncommonly well-trained.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 )

        Have you ever tried it? Just google for "dog blood pressure". Other studies also showed that the mere presence of a dog during a meeting led to fewer "pissing contests" between meeting participants, and more productive meetings, even if all the dog did was sit curled up in a corner ignoring everyone. Not having a pet in the office is costing businesses billions a year in sick days, lost productivity, extra medical costs, etc. 4 /815 [] American Heart Associati

        • by bunions ( 970377 )
          > Have you ever tried it?


          > [data]

          But the problem is that I don't like dogs.
          • But the problem is that I don't like dogs.

            Its not about what you like and don't like ... its about people's ability and right to earn a living. I work a lot better with at least one dog present. It doesn't have to do anything except sleep at my feet or behind my chair.

            I don't particularly like pineapple on pizza, but that doesn't mean I'll impose my preferences on others.

            Back more on-topic ... there are too many of us who fixate on the screen, staring rigidly in one direction. Its not just your over

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              1. Employee A brings dog to work, improving their morale. (productivity +X)
              2. Employee B doesn't like dogs, is distracted and annoyed. (productivity -Y)
              3. ???
              4. Profit?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by tomhudson ( 43916 )

                Its not just an "improvement in morale." So someone doesn't like dogs. What's he going to do - kick a handicapped person's service dog?

                I don't think so.

                The biggest culprit nowadays is keyboard trays and chairs that are too low.

                People get a keyboard tray to keep the keyboard at a "more natural" height. So now, they're sitting too far from their screen. So, what do they do? Instead of moving the screen closer, they hunch forward.

                The easier solution is to put the keyboad on the desk, and raise the cha

                • Your comment and the parent were interesting to me.

                  We are setting up workstations with treadmills, inspired by Dr. James A. Levine's work at the Mayo clinic:
         08.html []
         lab/ []
         e-fit_x.htm?csp=34 []

                  While we had a custom tray made for a treadmill by a generous neighbor a couple days ago, on reading your comment I do now reali
                  • When I was only working with oe monitor, I noticed that after long stints, I had a harder time turning my head to see to either side on the drive home. This is as serious a safety issue as too-tight ties for pilots (half of all people wear their ties too tight, and this restricts blood flow to the extent that there's a measurable impact on vision - iirc, it was summarized in Psychology Today)

                • Actually they're sitting at a much more reasonable distance from the screen. The problem is that screens are physically too small (sometimes.. not so much anymore) and fonts, especially system fonts, are set up for a specific "pixel-size." (ok not necessarily the fonts themselves, but dialog boxes and quite a few websites just don't handle resizing fonts very well at all.)

                  Personally, I prefer to sit further back, set the resolution to maximum, and increase the fonts as needed, and I just deal with the dia
                  • I know what you mean ... people really mis-match their fonts. Couple that with bad drivers and there are some screens where I'm going "you can't actually READ that, can you?"

                    This is particularly bad for the early adopters who spent big bucks for those tiny 15" or less lcd screens and are trying to get their money's worth by using the highest res their card puts out.

            • by bunions ( 970377 )
              > I work a lot better with at least one dog present.

              And I work a lot better with at most zero dogs present.

              > It doesn't have to do anything except sleep at my feet or behind my chair.

              If that's all it does, I got have no problems. But if any of my many experiences with dogs at work are any indicator, that never actually happens. You've got dogs roaming around from cube to cube, poking wet noses where they shouldn't be, eating things they shouldn't, and barking at the other dogs.
              • Cubes don't work. Period.

                Not for coding. Not for concentrating. Not for just thinking for a good half-hour about the best way to tackle a problem.

                I want a door I can close. I want table/desk/shelf space to spread out manuals, etc., where I can leave a few printouts, whatever I need to do. A so-called "computer desk" in a cube is the worst possible arrangement for coding

                AT & T did a study, and found that to be most productive, you need 32 square feet of surface (desk, table, shelving, etc). When's

                • AT & T did a study, and found that to be most productive, you need 32 square feet of surface (desk, table, shelving, etc). When's the last time you saw decent shelf space in a cube farm?

                  My cube "farm". ;-)

                  It's a little unorthodox, I guess. I had a choice of an office, or an unused space in our building. I went to the unused space with 32 cube panels, 5 cube desk sections, and heaps and heaps of cube shelving.

                  Within these constraints, I built myself a cube maze. I love it ;-)

                  Not a typical cube s
                • I want a door I can close. I want table/desk/shelf space to spread out manuals, etc., where I can leave a few printouts, whatever I need to do. A so-called "computer desk" in a cube is the worst possible arrangement for coding

                  And are you willing to go unpaid for several years and the money instead spent on building brick walls and putting doors in?

                  Cube farms aren't installed because they think it's the most effective way to work, it's because they don't have the space or money for individual offices for eve

                  • So they'd rather pay people to work at a lower level of efficiency - its a false economy, especially if it leads to more mistakes (a.k.a. bugs) that need to be "featured".

                    Better to pay people to telecommute, and they'lls ave money, electricity, heating, cooling, etc.

                • by bunions ( 970377 )
                  Dogs at work, everyone gets their own office ... any other fundamental changes you'd like while you're at it? On-staff masseuses? Mid-afternoon productivity naps?
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by tomhudson ( 43916 )

                    Naps at work: excellent idea - and already implemented at some places in order to improve productivity by as much as 40%.

          ,881 6 ,1209960,00.html []

                    Napping has had the hardest time gaining traction, despite the scientific evidence in its favor. A study by NASA found, for example, that a 26-minute nap increased pilots' performance 34%. "What other management strategy will improve people's performance 34% in 26 minutes?" asks Mark Rosekind, president of Alertness S

                    • by bunions ( 970377 )
                      > Naps at work: excellent idea

                      Yes, I know. Everyone knows. But no one will ever implement it for the same reason they'll never implement dogs at work or offices for everyone or free rhumba lessons on teusday: because it's not in line with business culture. Even in Spain, people have been abandoning the idea of siesta for some time now.
            • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

              "I don't particularly like pineapple on pizza, but that doesn't mean I'll impose my preferences on others."

              Except that nless you work at home or in an office all by yourself, by bringing your dog to work, you are imposing your preference on others. Look, I like dogs as well, I think they are great (at home). But many people just plain don't. And its not just about mere preferences, some people are actually afraid of dogs. Those people won't be able to work at all if they are afraid to death of the bl

              • Hey, google is your friend. As you can tell by reading the links, this builds on previus studies, one of which was the "business meeting with the golden retriever" scenario I mentioned (though it may not be generally available via the net because it was originally published on dead trees).

                So stuff your "I call bullshit" without first going down to the library and looking ... or at least doing an online search (you don't claim to have even done a cursory search online).

                • by nwbvt ( 768631 )
                  No, you made the claim that pets help out in the workplace, you provide the backing research that establishes it. I'm not going to research every wild theory I heard on Internet message boards. You can't make some wild claim, come up a link to an irrelevant study (and then link to two other stories discussing that study to make it look like there is a lot of research on the subject), and then make other people come up with the research that will actually establish whether or not your claim is true. You h
                  • Hey, I included links to one study, and related articles. Anyone who wants to can research the rest. So, since I've provided a starting point, YOU prove that I'm wrong. Oh, right, you're too fat and lazy to, you lame piece of shit! All you can do is whine about ho I have to do all the research, even though I've already read the other study (it's not google-able - its in a dead tree journal you actually have to pay for).

                    And while you're at it do me a favour and foe me - I'm collecting freaks, and you'd fit

                    • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

                      "Hey, I included links to one study"

                      Which, as I stated, had nothing to do with your claim (in fact, it even suggests the benefits from owning a pet continue even when you are at work and away from your dog, rendering the idea of keeping it with you to get maximum benefits wrong).

                      If you believe there is a study out there that does show dogs have a positive net effect (net effect is a key here, dogs decreasing the frequency of arguments doesn't do anything if they distract people from their work instead) o

                    • "mean I could just say that I'm sure there is a study out there that says having a pet lizard decreases your risk for cancer, and just tell every who doubts me to go to the library and look for it."

                      They could. What's the big deal ... this is slashdot. BTW, cancer-sniffing dogs were belittled for a long time as well - now they're accepted as being damned good at screening. Instead of trying to wall ourselves off as a "special being" rather than a mammal that can share our space with other mammals of diffe

                    • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

                      "They could."

                      So should we go on a crusade to convince people around the world to get pet lizards in order to stop cancer (like you are doing with regard to dogs in the workplace)?

                      "Instead of trying to wall ourselves off as a "special being" rather than a mammal that can share our space with other mammals of different genus, we should be trying to integrate them more into our lives. Just the $$$ saved would be enormous."

                      But while you have yet to show dogs in the workplace can provide any benefit, numero

        • by cp.tar ( 871488 )
          the mere presence of a dog during a meeting led to fewer "pissing contests" between meeting participants, and more productive meetings, even if all the dog did was sit curled up in a corner ignoring everyone.

          Ah, yes... but a true evil overlord strokes a cat sitting in his lap during the meetings with his minions.

  • sit forward (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @06:42PM (#16121940) Homepage Journal

    If I have been feeling back pain, I simply shift to sit on the front half of my chair. It forces me to sit more upright and lesss slouchy. It forces me to stop kicking my feet out at random angles and support some of my weight. It forces me to type with better arm positioning.

    (I type this while sitting nearly on my back, knees up, with kid in my lap... so take my advice with a grain of salt.)/p)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jpardey ( 569633 )
      An easy way to do this is to cover up the rest of your chair with clothing you haven't put away yet. Works for me!
  • excercise helps (Score:5, Informative)

    by dotmax ( 642602 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @06:42PM (#16121941)
    I've spent twenty years working in the control rooms of various particle accelerator facilities. I earn my money by sitting on my ass, using a keyboard, mouse and trackball and staring at a bank of monitors.

    i find that almost any kind of upper body excercise helps a lot. I live next to a river, so i kayak regularly -- it really helps keep the musculo-skeletal parts all tweaked up. Juggling is good. I imagine climbing, basketball etc help too. Bicycling is almost useless (i ride a lot, it's just not good for upper back problems). Unicycling is way good. :-) Some of my collegues like to lift.

    There's only so much posture / workstation ergonomics can do for you. Excercise is the real key. .max
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Keeping in mind that the majority of computer users, such as myself, tend to roll or hunch their shoulders forward basicly training their chest not to strech. By doing lots of chest exercises, and not having proper training or form while doing some of the exercise can actually make the problem worse by giving you a very strong unstrechable chest, which makes back problems 100X worse.
      • Who said he should do plenty of chest exercises?

        Anyway, do your:

        Deadlifts []
        Squats []
        Rows []

        And add for example cleans [], benchpress [], legcurls [] and military press [] if you want to add more exercises. (Stomach exercises such as crunches or front squats probably helps aswell.)

        Sitting in a quite ergonomic posture probably helps to but if you do those exercises I doubt it matters that much how you sit...
        • I couldn't agree more. Deadlifts and cleans also worked wonders for my carpal tunnel syndrome. Start light. It shouldn't hurt to lift.

    • Ditto. My posture improved drastically when I was using a rowing machine. Back exercises and stomach exercises. The back ones help you keep pulling backward, and the stomach ones give you bulk in front so the back has less work to do.
  • that they used in the Simpsons []. Though you may lose all feeling in the left side of your body....
  • good question ; ) (Score:3, Informative)

    by mattmacf ( 901678 ) <mattmacf@optonMO ... et minus painter> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @06:47PM (#16121969) Homepage
    Gee, what a unique [], exciting [], fresh [], unheardof [], never-before-asked [] question!

    In all seriousness though, this "Posture Minder" thing is nonsense. I'd be willing to bet it's nothing more then an overpriced motion sensor with a few health tips. My advice? Invest in a post-it note or two (or schedule a periodic alarm) and remember to get up and stretch every once in a while.

    • I'd be willing to bet it's nothing more then an overpriced motion sensor with a few health tips.

      Figuring out the posture of the person in front of the camera is an interesting computer vision problem, though. I wonder how they do it (if it actually isn't an "overpriced motion sensor" as you suggested)?

    • for providing the useful links.
  • I have to take special care of my upper back and neck since a car accident a few years ago. After talking to older people in my family I was told to get a good mattress [] and pillow [] and take MSM and glucosamine chondroitin [] religiously.

    Also when sitting at a computer it is more important to get up every once in awhile for me than to conciously try to sit "correctly". When I sit for 3-4 hours without getting up no matter how I sit I am miserable the rest of the day.

    • I have to take special care of my upper back and neck since a car accident a few years ago.

      this one's simple. Car accident induces "trauma" in the body's fascial (connective) tissue. If the body's stored trauma level is low, the new trauma is simply absorbed without any other symptoms. Every body has a carrying capacity for "trauma", and as long as that cup is less than full there are no problems. But as soon as the body's trauma carrying capacity is exceeded, symptoms will result.

      The solution is simpl
  • by Dogun ( 7502 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @06:49PM (#16121977) Homepage
    Don't take that the wrong way - I am a firm believer in the idea that sitting in awkward, unnatural positions can cause some nasty problems, but honeslty I don't think a webcam can collect enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not you are sitting 'safely.'

    If you want to prevent damage, take a rest break every 15 minutes or so to stretch out your arms, wrists, and back, don't type on a laptop keyboard, don't rest your hands on your keyboard, and above all, relax and vary your how you sit now and again. Stick a leg up on that desk. Pull the 'Thinker' pose. Lean back absurdly. Sit on your armrest. Perfect that slouch. Exercise may help, from what I've heard.

    Not only will you surprise your coworkers, you'll find that you really don't like sitting in the same damned 'good posture' pose all the time. Sometimes, it's just bloody uncomfortable.

    Disclaimer: have had RSI symptoms before. Got me a buckler-spring keyboard and an interesting chair to sit in and never looked back.
  • Spinal tap. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Do Slashdot readers have other devices or any habits that they have adopted to mitigate the health risks of spending a lot of time in front of a computer?""

    Wear a lightweight lift-belt. It's basically heavy-duty elastic with adjustable velcro on the front, and a reinforced section around the spine.* Helps with weight-issues too. Also get a proper chair with arm-rests and support that goes up to your upper-back. As well as a foot-rest that'll raise your feet enough to keep the circulation going in your legs
  • Try this (Score:3, Informative)

    by kkohlbacher ( 922932 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @07:17PM (#16122061)
    try Workrave &words=workrave []

    This is a pretty good program that pops up a reminder at set intervals, telling you to get up and stretch. If I'm not mistaken it provides stretching 'tips' as well. Forewarned that you need to take time to change the default settings once its installed. They are atrocious and you'll end up cursing me out for ever suggesting it if you don't. It'll also minimize full-screen games and what not.

    It's not posture-related but I came across another tip. Stick your finger out (I prefer index, but if your having a bad day make your choice) about a foot, focus on your finger for 20 seconds, then look in the area behind your finger for 20 seconds, repeat a couple times -- or until you start to hear people laughing. It's supposed to relieve eye strain. Works for me.

  • by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles@d a n t i> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @07:45PM (#16122154)
    Get a good bed and matress.
    Practice Tai Chi in a good school that treats it as a martial art, not gymnastics, such as the ITCCA []. (It's a good idea to research the lineage of the teacher before committing.)
  • Weightlifting (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Get yourself an olympic barbell set, a power rack, and flat bench. Lift weights 2-3 times a week. Bench press, chin ups, deadlifts. Slowly and in good form.
  • A small glass and small plates force you to visit the kitchen more often.

    My fav are the short glasses with a thick heavy base. It has a good weight even when empty.
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      My fav are the short glasses with a thick heavy base. It has a good weight even when empty.

      I agree, but after four to eight of them (depending on proof), I find I can no longer maintain very good posture.

      And, of course, I can't really use those at work...
  • Dawg! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:02PM (#16122224) Journal
    I work at home, where I spend about half my time hunched over a computer, the rest at a workbench hunched over a sketch pad or over little tiny parts which I'm assembling. Both are bad for posture. The second best investment I made was in a decent adjustable chair for my worktable. I'd always had one at the computer, but for the other work I sat in a kitchen or dining room chair, or a folding chair. No more. That helped a lot with back and shoulder problems.

    The very best investment was in an eight-year-old beagle, a recycled and rescued hunting dog. He absolutely requires a long walk and some activity each day. Aside from that, he needs to be let out from time to time, and he has no shyness at all about letting me know--forcing me to get my butt out of the chair to let him out into the yard.

    If you can't take your dog along to your workplace (and I never could), you can at least make time for a long walk and a few Frisbee or tennis ball tosses before or after work. You may find that the dog is actually better behaved and more obedient after a walk, and for you it will pay off in terms of relaxation, un-kinking of abused muscle groups, and possibly even better sleep.

    I could do all of this without a Beagle, but somehow I could never be bothered. Having the dog turns it into an obligation.
  • Back and neck brace.
  • Surprisingly, the comments that have been modded the highest so far revolve around software that will remind you to sit up straight, and using a swiss/pilates ball. While these are all good solutions, I don't think they combat the actual problem.

    Poor posture is caused by a laziness, lack of mobility, and a lack of strength along your postural chain. You can combat the laziness by using tools to force you to sit up straight - a well inflated, firm exercise ball, forcing yourself to sit at the front of th

  • For Stiff White Guys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by value_added ( 719364 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:35PM (#16122313)
    Here's a funny story.

    I've had bad/lazy posture for most of my life. I'm tall, so slouching is something I'm good at. In addition, I sustained a minor injury in my teen years that aggravated the state of affairs and as a result, most all of my adult life included intermittent back pain (pinched sciatic nerve) along with the usual visits to doctors, chiropracters, massage "therapists" and nights of sleeping on a bare floor. The doctors offered addictive drugs; the chiropracters offered instant relief, weird bone cracking noises, and a dent in my pocket book; the massage therapists mostly just made me feel sore.

    A few years back, my sister decided I should attend a Yoga class with her. I thought, "What the hell - why not?" and agreed. She picked me up in her car late one afternoon from a cafe where I'd sat drinking espresso and smoking cigarettes for a few hours with some friends. New sweats and T-shirts were in a bag waiting for me.

    We get to the "studio" and walk through the building past various workout rooms where people are using free weights, performing aerobics and you name it, and walk up a circular staircase to a glass-walled room on the top floor. As we turn the corner, I look into the room and see twenty or so people in an identical pose but notice an amazingly attractive woman in her early twenties, at least 8 months pregnant, standing, like everyone else in the room, motionless on one leg with the other leg held vertically straight above her. My second thought was, "I really don't think this is for me." I was expecting a small group of new-age types, but the group was a nice cross-section of what you'd expect in any city. Ordinary guys included.

    To make a long story short, I spent the 60 minutes engaged in one of the best workouts of my life! I can say that because I used to use free weights, run, and box, but for the record, I dislike exercising -- free weights satisfy one's vanity, and while other activities can be fun, I'd rather sit at in front of a computer and smoke cigarettes.) At any rate, the Yoga workout, by comparison, was head to toe. I came out sweating, relaxed as a baby, and my posture was normal, probably for the first time in my life. And it was fun.

    I took a few more classes, and eventually stopped. After each class, the "effects" lingered for some time so, given that I walked, sat, slept and did everything else better than I ever had, and my sciatic problems magically just disappeared, it was easy to slack off and go back to my usual habits knowing that I could bend down and put my hands flat on the floor whereas in the past, I was never able to touch my toes. With one exception. I could practise my Yoga adequately from home with no fuss.

    Yoga, for those unfamilar with it, is, at its essence, just streching. And breathing. Breathing is the most important part. Stretching while holding your breath is an excercise in futility and laughable. Heaving breathing (or heavy exhaling, to be more exact) without stretching *is* relaxing, but won't do much for your body. Combine carefully learned and structured postures and movement with heavy breathing and you get Yoga. It's almost a no-brainer, but the practice dates back further than you want to know, so yes, there is definitely more to it.

    My advice? Skip the expensive furniture. Ergonomic chairs are nice, but the best chairs are also best at making you comfortable while in a ridiculous, cramped, or otherwise unhealthy posture. And horribly expensive. Skip the therapists, too, unless you have a real medical condition. You'll get more satifaction by hiring a hooker. Learn some basic stretches (read Yoga postures) and BREATHE. You can practise Yoga in an hour-long class, at home, or by simply taking a few minutes out of a hectic afternoon and doing some basic stretches. I'll guarantee it.

    Check out your local phonebook for a Yoga class near you. In my area there's one called Stiff White Guys Yoga. Says it all, doesn't it? If nothing else, you'll find lots of very relaxed babes, all willing to help out a novice, and you'll learn some things you can use for the rest of your life.
    • by dubl-u ( 51156 ) *
      I second that. Yoga is fantastic for my posture. For me, bad posture isn't a problem of sitting wrong, any more than late-night stupid coding mistakes are a problem of coding wrong. Staying fit fixes one; staying rested fixes the other.
    • by knuxed ( 854959 )
      I third that,I am always on the computer and have a very bad posture problem,but with yoga,it seems to go away instantly.The first time would be a bit painful as you are streching unused muscles but after a while,the pain is kinda addictive and soothing
    • by EllF ( 205050 )
      Likewise for any activity that balances the body, and encourages breathing. I run, lift weights, and bike, but there is a categorical difference between feeling exhausted from those activites and feeling exhausted after an hour or two of Aikido, Iaido, or (from your post) yoga.
  • I'm surprised nobody has posted on these yet - while a lot of people have mentioned using yoga balls to make you sit up straight, there are also kneeling chairs (where you kneel, rather than sit) which force you to do the same.

    They take a little getting used to, as more of your weight is on your knees, but are probably more acceptable in an office environment. ...although, there probably is a certain satisfaction in being able to hurl your yoga ball at co-workers.

    Link to an example: here [].
  • I suufferes for years with bad posture and back pain. I went to MANY chiropractors and massage therapists to no avail. It wasn't until I worked in a hospital that a Professor who was walking behind me asked did I have AS. I obviously had the dummy mode look because he signed me up for diagnosis. It turns out I have fusing of my vertebrae. Upshot, chiropractors are not doctors. Now I swim as often as I can get to the pool. I can play with my soon. It's great!
  • .. of back pain related to sitting on my butt all day...

    Here are a few things you can do to prevent such back pain. First, take up walking. At least 1 mile a day. This helps because the muscles in your legs attach to your back and help stretch it out. Not sure of the mechanincs, I just know it helps me. Second, get up, off your butt at least 1 time each hour. This will a little. Funky chairs help some, but the real issue is sitting for long periods of time. Third, take up an exercise routine. Focu

  • If you're lucky enough to live near a Kieser Training [] centre then this is best thing for correcting bad posture. I had a debilitating weakening of the back and neck caused by computer stress and nothing, including physio, osteopathy, chiropractic or yoga did anything for me. Then a friend recommended Kieser Training and I improved dramatically such that I can do full days on a computer so long as I keep up the Kieser sessions. The UK National Health service is clueless in the treatment of back and neck prob
  • When I'm not actively working the keyboard, just scrolling and reading something, I make a point of returning my hands to my lap in between page-downs. That one thing has solved most wrist strain problems for me.
  • Not sure if you have seen an Airdesk ( []. It helped me in the sense that I can lean back on my chair now and bring the laptop to me. I imagine you can simply keep your keyboard where I keep my laptop. They also have an Airdesk specifically for desktops, but I do not have any experience with that. Hope it helps.
  • Sit in the lotus position, then telepathically control your keyboard.
  • Do Slashdot readers have other devices or any habits that they have adopted to mitigate the health risks of spending a lot of time in front of a computer?"

    Once every hour I take the elevator down, go outside, and suck down a cigarette or two. None of this chronic back pain or deep vein thrombosis for me, no sir!

  • Get a good standing desk (not a crappy server-room type) and stand the hell up.
    Make sure your mouse, keyboard, and screen (especially your mouse/wacom/spaceball/powerglove/whatever) are at an ergonomic level. The first 2-3 weeks are a little painful, but they'll pass. Get a drafting chair with no armrests for when you get tired. They're uncomfortable enough for you not to want to stay in them for longer than you need to.

    You'll feel much healthier, be less fatigued and more active. Also helps keep away the a
  • The Alexander Technique [] teaches how to maintain the correct posture in all circumstances, including while sitting in front of a computer. There's no easy answer: it takes (at least initially) conscious effort to sit properly, and is undeniably hard work. This is the only real way to avoid long-term back problems, by unlearning all the bad habits that have been picked up over a lifetime.
  • I had back problems. I tried a bunch of different ergonomic stuff which didn't help. I finally went to a (free NSH) pyhsiotherapist. She identified my problems as stemming from a weak set of back muscles (rhomboids) and over-extended ligaments (or tendons--I forget). This gave me upper back and neck problems. Esentially, I was hiunching forward with relaxed back muscles and the ligaments were taking all the load while my back atrophied. This put an unnatural strain on parts of my back (which also explains w
  • One of the simplest things to do is to raise your monitor up to eye height. Then get a chair with armrests, a decent keyboard, and arrange everything so that when your back is against the chair back, you can type comfortably with your arms supported.

  • by FractalZone ( 950570 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:41AM (#16127944) Homepage
    Posture Minder? I can't believe anybody would pay for a gimmick that nags them like their mommy (and maybe nuns in grade school if they are Roman Catholic :-) did when they were little kids.

    "Sit up straight!"..."Don't slouch!"..."Keep your elbows off the table!" Who needs that crap?

    Then again, the kind of sick masochistic fitness freaks who buy into the "No pain, no gain." nonsense are notorious for spending big bucks on fancy home gyms, trendy weight loss products, and the health-food/weight-loss plan/diet of the week... I just think of Eule Gibbons, pitchman for Post Grape Nuts, who died of a heart attack after years of promoting his own wacky notion of a healthy diet.

    I don't discount bad posture as being a root cause of many kinds of bone, joint, and muscle pain people experience as they grow older. On the other hand, I know for damn sure that I won't be writing great code if I'm being nagged by a program that doesn't like the way I sit/slouch at the keyboard. I might not be writing great code anyway, but at least I'll be comfortable while getting nothing useful done!

    I came across this relevent .sig when researching this reply:

    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the hope of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather throughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly procaiming ,"WOW WHAT A RIDE[!]"

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault