How Your Eyes Can Make or Break Your Posture

Last week I conducted 9 ergo workshops in San Francisco and Seattle which were a huge success.   I asked 3 simple questions.

“Is anyone here currently wrestling with some discomfort related to your work set up or the way you work?”

Like most workshops – the responses to the first question come in a lot like making popcorn.  No hands go up.  They look around nervously.  Then one brave hand shyly goes up, then another, and another and pretty soon the vast majority of the people have their hands up in the air.   And so, a few more questions are asked.

Can you tell me what is bothering you?” 

“My lower back.”

“My neck and shoulders.

“My upper back.”

“My neck, shoulders, and I also suffer from headaches.”

 

“What do you think is causing your discomfort?”

“My posture.”

“Yeah, my posture too.”

“Same.”

 

“What do you think is causing your posture to out of whack?”

“My monitors.”

“My screens.”

“My laptop.”

“Texting and looking down at my phone.”

So, I asked everyone to stand up and stand in a comfortable position.  And guess what??  With the exception of a few people who had some roundness in their shoulders and stood with a slight head forward position, 95% of the group naturally had good posture.

Let’s take a closer look.

To keep things simple, think of posture as good alignment, or better yet, as your natural alignment which should go something like this:

  • Head & Neck: Your ears should line up over your shoulder (balanced head and neck.)
  • Shoulders: Your shoulders and chest should be comfortably open (not forced back) and aligned over your elbows.
  • Elbows: Your elbows should be close to your body (as they hang directly under your shoulders) and aligned over your hips.
  • Hips and Legs: If you are standing, your hips should align over your knees and your knees should align over your ankles.

What causes us to lose our good posture?

There are several things that can throw you out of alignment and cause issues.  But your eyes can ruin your naturally good posture in seconds.

My eyes can ruin my posture?

Think about it.  Look up.  Look down.  Look to the left and then to the right.  What just happened?  Unless you looked with your eyes only which is unlikely, chances are that your head and neck followed your eyes as you looked in different directions.  When it comes to posture, wherever your eyes go, your head and neck will follow.  And that means that the rest of your back is likely to follow.  And when that happens, your sitting and standing posture is drastically compromised.  And that can lead to major discomfort and even injury.

The three things to pay attention to are:

  1. Your line of sight.   If your screens are too low, (think laptops, phones and tablets) you can count on rounded posture.  But if your monitors are too low at your desk, chances are you will slouch forward to be able to see or slump in your chair to bring your eyes low enough to comfortably see your screen.  (NOTE: The exception to that is if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, then you actually want your screen on the low side.)
  2. Your eye sight. If you are struggling to see (think squinting and craning your neck forward to see your screen or something you are reading or looking at, it is a safe bet to say that your head and neck and upper back will round forward to help get you closer to what you are looking at.
  3. Glare.  If there is glare on your screen,  you will likely move your head up, down or to the side to avoid the glare and then you guessed it, your posture will distort.

Good News!

The great news is there are easy solutions that can help your eyes and your posture.

  1. Keep your screens in a healthy line of vision.  This simply means put your screens, devices, papers, etc. in a position where you can keep your head and neck comfortably balanced over the plane of your spine (ears over shoulders.)  This may mean raising or lowering your monitor with the help of monitor risers (books and reams of paper work too!) monitor arms, an adjustable base on your monitor as well as a laptop riser for your laptop and tablets.
  2. Get Your Eyes Checked Out Regularly. If you are struggling to see, please get help.  You may need glasses or an update on your existing glasses.   Computer glasses may be of help.  Talk to your eye care specialist.
  3. Avoid Glare.  You can avoid glare by keeping your screen clean, opting for a screen that is matte vs glossy.   You can invest in a glare screen (which can also double as a privacy screen.)  If you work near a window, it is best to be perpendicular to the window vs behind it or in front of it.  Window shades work too!

Now I’d love to hear from you and how you feel your eyes affect your posture.  Please leave a comment below!

Until the next time!

 

Vivienne

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